James Brodie & Co Ltd (Brodies) Store in Belize City, taken 1926-1931
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Friday February 28, 2020

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A different angle of this picture. In this one you can see the Park and the Court House. As we can see, on the right of this picture the street area looks the same. There were three Court Houses and this is the last of the three and built in 1926.

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The Government of Belize has adopted an objective the Belize City House of Culture and the historical downtown of Belize City for the purpose of preserving the historic and colonial heritage of the area, utilizing an eco-museum development concept. The Government has hence approved The Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project to which the Ministry of Tourism, Culture Civil Aviation has been appointed as the executing agency for the Project.
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James Brodie & Co Ltd (Brodies) Store in Belize City, taken 1926-1931

The photo would have had to be between 1926 and 1931. I don't think it would have been later than 1931 because the 1931 hurricane would have caused major damage that would have been evident on Brodies. This was when the main entrance to the store was from the park. The building was a timber post & beam construction; hurricane Hattie actually racked the structure a bit and cables, jacks, etc were used to bring it back into alignment and then additional trusses were installed beneath the old roof rafters. It was the only big store back then. Especially in the 70s.

“In early November, 1872 the Royal Mail Steamer, “Belize”, arrived from Jamaica in the harbor of Belize Town to unload passengers and general cargo.

The Belize shuttled back and forth between Kingston and British Honduras with monotonous regularity. It was not nearly so gran as the great steamers which sailed from Liverpool to the rest of the Caribbean, but it was adequate and the Colony’s only link with Great Britain.

Once in the open roadstead at Chor, the lighters came alongside, their sails flapping, to receive cargo. The gangway was lowered and the passengers descended into the British Honduras Corporation’s (later the Belize Estate an Produce Company Limited), Steam Launch.

Among then on that 12th day of November was a young man from a small village in Scotland, coming to see if he could make his was in the world in Britain’s newest Crown Colony, British Honduras. His name was James Brodie.

The world he found himself in on the streets of Belize Town was indeed a strange one, nothing like the little place he came from.

Coming in on the ship he has seen the town rise gradually out of the sea, red roofs, two or three church spires, then the white buildings. Belize town emerged as if by magic, and from three miles off-shore, seemed an enchanted place.

The first thing he noticed on the launch was the colour of the water, As the boat neared the Fort George Island, the blue water of the harbor disappeared and turned into a dark and ominous river. The water was filled with sailing dories, fishing smacks, a raft of mahogany logs and several barges of logwood.

The smell surrounded him even before he landed. It was impossible to sort them out. There was wood smoke from cooking fires, molasses ad raw rum; there was a fresh fish smell and the rancid oil smell of copra combined with the stench of untreated sewage.

It was all too confusing to analyze in the first hour.

The streets were jammed with mule carts, drays, horses, carriages and people; laughing , smiling, happy people. Had he ever seen so many black people at one time? It was bewildering for young Brodie.

There were soldiers on the streets; black soldiers of the First West India Regiment. Brodie has never seen a black man in the Queen’s uniform before now.

Only ten weeks before his arrival, he learned, a band of Mexicans under the notorious bandit, Marcus Canul, had attacked Orange Walk Town, The attack was repulsed by the soldiers, the townspeople, and a couple of American immigrants and Canul had been killed, but fear now stalked the North and some of it rubbed off on the people of Belize Town.

Brodie was welcomed by his fellow Scots, a good number in the town now. (and in ten years the Scots would be in control of the commerce of the Colony and heartily disliked by their competitors), and by the English, the Germans, the Jews, the French, Portuguese and the Americans who make up the White Population of the community.

The creoles no doubt saw him as a just another backra man coming to make money. Or the law, or to be a missionary. But that is the way the world works, no true?, they said to themselves. Poor man can’t vex. They were prepared to like him if he was likeable or ignore him if he wasn’t”

Source: 100 years of Brodie in Belize by Emory King

Note: I did some research on James Brodie to find out what happened to him after he departed British Honduras and this is what I found. James Brodie was born in 1849 in Scotland. When he arrived in British Honduras he was 23 years old. He married a lady born in British Honduras by the name of Clarissa Peebles. She was sixteen when he arrived. They had one son born in British Honduras (1877) by the name of Hugh W. Brodie. The 1901 London census records him living at 11 Parisifal Road, Hampstead, London. If you enter the street address in google map it will show you a house at that address. Not sure if the house that will show was the same house in 1901, but it could be because some of those houses are very old. At the time of the census, James Brodie was fifty four years old living at that address with his wife Clarissa Brodie, his son twenty four years old, his mother-in-law seventy eight years old, one Swedish nurse, and two English maids. His occupation was stated as Colonial Merchant and Shipper. I guess this explains why there are no one with the name Brodies in Belize.

I worked there two Christmas's and the summer in between, under Mr. Keating (Great Humble Man), as a Messenger ($5.00 weekly - lots of money), riding that big heavy bicycle (see below). The goods in the basket were usually heavier than me. Should see me pushing that beast up the Swing bridge! Then immediately after finishing High School at Technical High School, I was hired, full-time, ($9.00 weekly) to make trips to Customs to get Bill of Laiding passed by Customs, to have foreign goods released. Lots of stuff, including piles of Raleigh Cigarettes. Harold Usher

Brodie's Gift Stamps

Once the booklet was filled it was redeemable. They were redeemable at any time but some people kept them for special occasions. After shopping you would go to a lady sitting at a little desk near the front who would give you stamps that valued your total. Then scratch your receipt. There were green $1 stamps. Blue $2 or $3 stamps then the red $5.

Ad Published in 1925 "The Handbook of British Honduras"

Two photos above from the Brodie's Centennial (1887 - 1987) anniversary booklet.

Top photograph courtesy The Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project

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