In front of the Belize City Market by the swing bridge along the river looking to the sea, 1923 and 1978
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Wednesday November 18, 2020

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I never tired of this scene. This was in 1978. It's still beautiful today, but was even more so then. The skiff in the foreground with twin outboards was Big Hand's. Built by Gerald Jones as I recall. Photo by Alan Jackson.


November 1989, it's all gone today. Now the new City Hall in the photo below in the same location. Only the sail boats are still there.


View of the old Belize market and swing bridge, you can almost see inside Captain Foote's Warehouse (now Mona Lisa) on the far left. On the left hand side of the swing bridge in this photo is St. John's College (Henry Melhado building) at the bridge foot, the old Market building and then Captain Foote's Warehouse which leads out to Albert Street.


Fishing and fruit dories at the Old Market, maybe early 1900s. Today our fruits and vegetables are brought in by road. However, back in the Olden Days a high volume of them were brought into the City by boats and dories. Some of these boats have their stern and bow turn up. You will see that more with the boats that are planked vs a dory/dugout. Couple of reasons: higher (more freeboard) in bows & stern tend to make for less water coming over from waves and also provide more buoyancy in the ends. Also, in working boats the midship area tends to be lower (less freeboard) because that is where the work is done (loading/unloading reaching overboard when fishing, etc). In dugouts, you are starting with a straight line along the log that creates the top edge (the sheer) vs planked rounded hulled boats where as the planks are applied the distance from the keel to the sheer in the mid-point of the boat is longer than at both ends. The natural shape then ends up with the ends higher than the midship and they will be trimmed to style the sheer that is desired. You will also find many combinations depending on the use of the vessel.


Belize River Haulover branch viewed from city market, looking north in the general direction of the consulate, 1960's


Central Market Belize City October 1973. This is the first time I came to Belize. Photo by Carolyn Carr.


What it looks like now...


Fish stall. George Villanueva: Remember de ol market, 1979, all types of fishes sizes and color and the smell, lol. Good ol days of Belize. Gone but not forgotten. My grandfather have his section on the farthest left selling his catch. Photo by Jon Chitty.


Harboour and market. Photo by Jon Chitty.


A 1968 photo of a busy little corner of Belize City, the old market on the right.


As you can see next to the ol market a building was going up, would later become the Mona Lisa Hotel, which was also use in the Mosquito Coast, staring Harrison Ford

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In front of the Belize City Market by the swing bridge along the river looking to the sea, 1923 and 1978, also new City Hall in the same location

The good old days fish was cheap then, any size go for the ssme price some fishermen use to sell them on string from a coconut leaf for 25cents, you get 5 or more fish on a string for a shilling which is 25cents. The real fishermen of Belize were the ones who sold their fish at the Market from 5 o'clock in the mornings until it's all finished. The Market was open for business at 5 in the morning and by 9 it was dead during week-days? On Saturdays it opened all day and on Sundays it was closed.

Back in those days the boats that brought coconuts could have docked at the wharf at Captain Richard Foote's warehouse and discharged their products.

Even at the market big fishing sailboats could have docked and be discharged. One could have gone to the market and bought live fish. Now, how was that possible? Well, some of the fishing sailboats that docked at the market had wells in which the fish were kept. I am sure that at the time the market was dismantled that the water was too shallow for the sailboats to dock. Only skiffs could have docked. Even today the water is still shallow.

Martin Jude: I remember my mom use to always say the best fish at the market was from a fisherman called "Big Hand." He introduced me to the hog fish.


That red boat is Big Hand boat...not sure but I think the name was Coretta. Whenever you see that red boat Big Hand was in selling fish. And crawfish he used to pull other fishermen's pot. Photo by Eddie Joseph.

Big hand lived on Dickenson Street, his dad's had a big big motorcycle. Dat is tru wen you want the best fish mr Big Hand the man to go to. Maurice Reynolds was called 'Big Hand' from way back. The Skiff with the high bow looks like Big Hand's skiff which was named Guess.

That old market isn't there anymore, a lot of tourists used to come to Belize City just to see & eat fish etc. at the old market. We lost a lot of tourist trade after they took it down & replaced it with that worthless cement building. That was a big part of our heritage & tourist attraction.


that's a Ford Ranch Wagon I think.

When i passed the swing bridge i could smell this photo...very nice... I can even feel the breeze on my face.

Kamigami Tenshi: I used to go with my dad early morning to the market because he said early birds catches the most worms. My dad was also a merchant marine in Belize and when the ship would come into Belize my dad would take us to do his watch with him and we would take Mr. Linty Neal Sr.'s boat right across from the market near the fire station. Mr. Neal lived on the canal side a few homes down from Aunt Joyce shop and Rocky road bridge. Oh my God, wow! What childhood memories mmmm hmm. We got so used to it, that it was our fun times when Gomez ships (Gomez ships were the Carigulf Ships) would return home with the cargo for Belize. The ship did not stay too long after it unloads so once my dad made his first trip to the house and drop off OUR GOODIES. We would pack our little bags and whatever night was his WATCH (he still had to work on board the ship while it docked out to sea) so we had to be ready and right after school in the evenings my family and I would head down to the fire station to the opening between the fire house and swing bridge We board the motor boat and head out to see. When you go back then you find the BIG HEKITY/ BOKOTORA if dah so yo spell fi he darn name they were always out there on their backs. Even though I can understand why it is now illegal to fish and kill the hekity/bokotora, it is one of the best meat I have ever tasted. If I remember correctly, it had four different flavors.

Icilda Jennifer Coye Paredez: Linty Neal, he lived on canal side at the alley mouth not far from my great grand parents family home, also my grand Uncle Bertie Flowers was the mechanic & engineer in charge of the station for very many years, after he retired he went to work at the Vogue.

Brian Keating: Knew a fisherman from Foreshore; he used to keep his smack right near our house. Mr 'James' Rhoda taught me lots about drop fishing, how to use a 'mackerel line', throw a castnet and repair the stitching on one, cast lead fishing sinkers, and lots of other stuff. His boat was only about 17-18 feet long, grey, with a vertical stem and what called a 'compass stern' and an outboard rudder; it had a well that leaked a lot. He would arrive early in the morning and scoop the prior days catch out of the well and haul that to the market. He would return later and pole along Foreshore down towards Yarborough standing on the bow with his castnet catching bait and then head out to the area he fished along the Bough, Swallow Caye, and around Stake Bank. Around 15-1600 hrs he would be coming in and sometimes we got live fish (nice wachinango snappers) from him then or the next morning before we went off to the market. Fond memories!

Nancy R. Koerner: "Love of di Maastah! Love of di Maastah to you!" the small dark Creole man shouted in glee, with a wide toothy grin. He stood just outside the Market near the foot of the Swing Bridge every day. Of all the times I ever came in from Cayo to buy supplies in Belize City, there was never a day when I did not see him there, standing on the corner, next to the reeking fish market. Gesticulating toward the bridge and bowing, he smiled and made eye contact with each individual passerby, as if welcoming every person into the next moment of their lives. I remember how I would take one last breath of fresh air, calculating the distance, before braving the strongest down-wind stink of the market. "Love of di Maastah! Love of di Maaster to you!" he said. I could feel his spirit as I came near, a palpable thing. I would receive his blessing, raise my eyes to meet his, nod, and smile back. Then I would wander over the Swing Bridge, listening to the boats squeaking and bumping at their moorings, and shade my eyes in the direction of Angelus Press, to see if the "conch flittas" guy in the little wooden kiosk was serving that day.

Joseito Sosa: That area was always crowded. And the fishes sold were all fresh fishes that was just brought in. By the end of the day you would never be able to purchase any because everyone of them were sold out. Do t even think of going there during Easter people were there from the moment the market gate were open. It was such a great joy going there with my parents every Saturday.

C. Phillip Waight: It's interesting to note how the demographics of the market place has changed. In the early years of the old market by bridge foot the major ethnic group working and selling in the market was kriol/blacks, when the market was torn down and move to the pound yard area, the vendors became all hispanic, interesting.

Top photograph courtesy Belize Abroad

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