Mapping our past with storyboards

What if you didn’t have anything to connect you to your past, nothing about your culture, history, or even your ancestors? Isn’t it then refreshing to know that a web search, a book, a journal account, or even a community storyboard can provide details of our interesting past?

Recently, during the hot first day of summer, the heritage and communications team ventured to Westmoreland. The purpose of the visit was to install storyboards, which came with significant knowledge fulfilment, our ties with those who came before us, tours of ghostly caves, and flashbacks to an anti-pirates’ fort. The storyboard initiative is the brainchild of the Urban Planning and Heritage Unit at TPDCo. When speaking with this team, it is apparent that history adds even more flavour to their lives. Narratives, stories, and research flow seamlessly from their brains, and the bulk of learned information seems almost innate. It should be fulfilling to enjoy one’s job and to be able to ignite that passion every day of your career.

It was indeed a delight to know that these storyboards, placed at heritage sites across the island could drum up feelings of nostalgia, and provide a rare glimpse into the lives of those who helped to contribute to our interesting culture.

At our first stop, up in the hills of Westmoreland, is a community known as Seaford town. The town dates back nearly 200 years after a search for labourers in Jamaica, brought Germans to the western side of the island. It’s interesting to see this information on a board and to watch the gasps and nods of approval from community members.

 Today, some German names and customs, particularly those relating to food preparation, such as roasted suckling pig, have survived. However, the German language is not spoken, except for a few words known and used mainly by the elderly.

This community represents the most significant evidence of German heritage in Jamaica.

Our next stop took us to the Savanna-la-Mar Fort, which sits quietly and only a stone’s throw from the busy Great George Street in Savanna-la-Mar. The storyboard, which greets you upon entering the fort, highlights the plans to fortify the town back in the 1700s. It has been stated that the 16000 pounds provided to fund the construction to offer security against pirates and privateers! A beautiful painting of what the town would’ve looked like in the 18th century adds to the information about the simplistic and picturesque features of the fort back in the day.

Today, only parts of the structure remain as a tell-tale to those hundreds of years ago….and of course the storyboard.

Come back soon for stories of TPDCo’s roaring river attraction, and the spiritual powers of the cave, as well as the Manning’s school and its journey to continued excellence.

While you wait for the next blog in this series, keep up with us on social media @tpdcoja