Remains of Fort Barlee in Corozal, Belize
The fort was a constructed in Corozal Town by Lieutenant Governor Frederick Palgrave Barlee (pictured to the left) in the early 1870's. The fort was built to protect British interests and early settlers in Corozal during the late years of the Guerra De Las Castas (Caste War) that was waged by the Icaiche Maya in Yucatan and Northern Belize.
If you would like to read some of Governor Barlee's personal letters to his brother you may read them at this link. These letters will give to you first-hand insight into the life of a British Honduras Governor.
The fort had four gun turrets made of red bricks and wooden palisades that spanned the diatnce between the turrets. The bricks were originally used as ballast by ships that travelled from Great Britain to the west Indies and Belize. On their return, the ships were filled with mahogany and log wood.
Soldiers stationed at the fort were members of the British West India Regiment who mostly came from Jamaica and Barbados. At Fort Barlee, British Honduras was witness to some of the rare military incidences that helped shaped this country into what it is today. Fort Barlee is the last standing fort in Belize.
The Corozal Public Hospital, along with doctors' and nurses' quarters was built inside the former compound in the early 1900's and was in use until Hurricane Janet in 1955 destroyed the structures. In the late 1950's government administrative buildings were constructed and are currently in use. Fort Barlee is the last standing fort in Belize.
In early 1867 the British troops entered the Maya village of San Pedro Siris (Northwestern Belize) without opposition. The British burn down the houses,corn houses and corn fields. The British launch a campaign against the Yucatec Maya people in Northwestern Belize burning down the villages of San Pedro Siris,Chunbal Che, Santa Teresa,San Jose Yalbac,Naranjal,Cerro,Santa Cruz and other villages. Many Maya families moved to San Felipe, Guinea Grass, Santa Cruz, San Estevan, San Roman Rio Hondo, San Lazaro, Yo Creek and other villages in Orange Walk District. Also other Maya families move to Santa Familia, Benque Viejo, San Antonio Cayo and other villages in Cayo District. At the end of the war some went to the village of Botes in Mexico. Also through intimidation the BEC burn down the last Maya community in the yalbac area known as San Jose Yalbac and they founded the village of San Jose Nuevo Palmer.
NOTE: The Maya of the Yalbac area fought against the British and resisted until the 1930's.
Top photograph by Tacogirl, bottom four by Belize Scoop
Lieutenant Governor Frederick Palgrave Barlee 1837 - 1884
Corozal has the great distinction of having the last standing fort in the country- Fort Barlee. Below is a excerpt giving some insight into Frederick Barlee's work while in British Honduras.
In 1876 Barlee found the Colonial Office anxious to prevent his return to Perth. In November he accepted promotion as administrator of British Honduras with a virtual guarantee of succession to the lieutenant-governorship. He arrived in Belize in March 1877, applied himself to his duties with zeal and energy, and travelled extensively through his tropical domain. He kept a sharp eye on the public service, built up the police and volunteer forces, encouraged commerce, improved communications and introduced several public health measures, but on his north-west frontier hostile Indians were a more serious worry than Australian Aboriginals had ever been to him. Once again he encountered opposition to his policies. In 1880 a petition against his administration from a sector of the mercantile community reached the House of Commons and with other correspondence was duly printed. Barlee weathered that storm but also had serious differences with his colonial secretary. After bouts of fever he returned to England in September 1882. Business affairs soon took him for a month to Western Australia, where he was warmly welcomed. He then spent a miserable year in England suffering acutely from asthma and with only a slim chance of further employment by the Colonial Office. In April 1884 he was offered the temporary administration of Trinidad, again with some prospect of the governorship. He reached Port of Spain in June and again threw himself into work, but after six weeks he succumbed to asthma and died on 8 August 1884.
Fort Barlee's History
From San Pedro to Belize City to Corozal, people were taken by surprise by a very powerful squall that drought with it over 50mph wind gusts - Strong enough to snap tree branches and blow away unsecured items and even weak roofing. Wow!!
Below are images dating back to 1900, The map or plan dating back to 1906 is fascinating, we can see the paddock which is now the Gabourel Hoare Market, another image shows the palisades and a gun turret. We thank the Belize Archives and Record Service and Mr. Jorge Clarke for the images below.