What to Do, What to See
What to Do, What to See
In the parish of Manchester there is a nature retreat and bird sanctuary plus some really interesting historic and cultural sites to visit, including:
- Bloomfield Great House - an old great house converted to a restaurant overlooking the entire town of Mandeville, popularly known as the steak house. The first owner Billy Lowrey, was one of the few English families in Mandeville.
- Captain Alexander Woodburn Heron's tomb at the top of Shooter's Hill, now called "Heron Hill" by the locals. Captain Heron (1815-1901) was one of the largest landowners in Jamaica in the 19th century. His plantations included Wigton (inherited from his Scottish immigrant father (1756-1825) who married a Jamaican-born woman), Shooter’s Hill, Williamsfield, Kendal, Glasgow, Chudleigh and Mile Gully. It is said he wanted to be buried at the top of this hill so he could look down on all his land. The land is now mostly owned and maintained by Windalco Bauxite Company but the old gravesites can still be visited. It's a bit of a hike but, on a clear day, you can look across the island from here and see the Blue Mountain Peak, 60 miles away to the east.
- Jamaican Standard Products Co. Factory (a.k.a. High Mountain Coffee Factory) - In Williamsfield you will find this relatively new modern coffee factory, the production factory for the world famous brands of Baronhall Estates coffee, Blue Mountain Coffee (packaged as Wallenford Blue), High Mountain coffee and various teas, liqueurs, sauces and spices. JSP is one of Jamaica’s oldest coffee companies and is the single largest producer of roasted and ground coffee in Jamaica, some of the finest coffees in the world. Founded in 1942 by Leslie Minott, the company dealt mainly in produce until 1952 when gourmet coffees became popular. A factory was started to produce the renowned High Mountain coffee. Mr. Minott died in 1972 and was succeeded by his younger son, Jackie Minott who undertook consturciton of the new factory in 1997. JSP now exports green beans and roasted coffee all around the world. The factory is happy to give tours by appointment only. Closed weekends. Phone: 876.963.4211.
- Site of Kendal Railway Tragedy. On September 1, 1957, Jamaica's worst railway tragedy occurred here, killing nearly 200 and injuring between 400 and 700 more, when the wooden railway coaches derailed near the town of Kendal. It was the second worst rail disaster in the world at the time.
- Kirkvine Works: Alcan Jamaica was the first and largest of the multinational bauxite companies operating in Jamaica and formerly operated this factory. It is now owned by Windalco (West Indies Alumina Company), a division of the Russian-based UC Rusal, the world's largest aluminium producer. They suspended operations here in 2009 due to the global recession, however, and may not reopen. This processing factory at Williamsfield was completed in 1957 and was also the largest in Jamaica.
- Maidstone Free Village (also called Nazareth). Founded in 1840 by Moravian missionaries, a coffee estate's property was purchased near Nazareth in the parish to establish a Free Village for former slaves. The property was divided into more than 90 lots of one to fifteen acre plots and made available to ex-slaves for a reasonable deposit. They managed to establish a thriving community, becoming one of the most independent in Jamaica. See the old plantation house, cemetery, museum and the Nazareth Moravian Church built in 1888.
- Manchester Club Golf Course. Built in 1865, the Manchester Club is believed to be the oldest surviving club in the western hemisphere. Developed like a British Gentleman's Club, it was popular with the Scottish immigrants and membership was quite exclusive. The original clubhouse was demolished and rebuilt in the 1990s. There are old championship boards on display and a very old guest book dating to 1910. The 9–hole golf course, was designed in the traditional Scottish Links style. Play this historic course and relax afterward in the clubhouse. Phone: 876.962.2403.
- Marlborough Great House. Said to have been built in 1795 and designed by a Scottish architect named Forsyth, the house is Georgian style with a high portico and large columns. The first known owner of Marlborough House was the Honourable Richard Boucher. The Bouchers are believed to have been Haitian refugees who came to Jamaica in about 1792. It is currently a private residence.
- Marshall's Pen Great House and Bird Sanctuary: This 200 year old great house is Mandeville's most impressive historical building. It is in the midst of a former coffee plantation that is now used for cattle breeding. It is a nature retreat and wildlife sanctuary. More than 100 species of birds have been recorded here, including 25 of the 27 species endemic to Jamaica.
- Pioneer Chocolate Factory - On Winston Jones Highway in Williamsfield, just yards from the JSP (High Mountain) Coffee Factory, is the Pioneer Chocolate Factory. Pioneer makes some of the best chocolate on the island. On occasion, they will give factory tours by appointment. There is a factory outlet next to the Texaco gas station.
- Porus (originally Vale Lionel). Vale Lionel (now known as Porus), was the 6th Free Village laid out for ex-slaves by Missionary James Phillipo in 1840. It was named after the then Governor, Sir Lionel Smith. Vale Lionel started as a sparsely populated community and the seat of a large coffee market. The story goes that when things got real bad and the ex-slaves did not want to go back to the plantations, they said, “Poor Us”. Another version was that the name came about as a result of the type of soil in the area - ‘porous’. The lovely rural community lies along the banks of the Rio Minho River and is known for its dasheen, yams, luscious fruits and crafts.
- The Rectory: The Rectory in Mandeville to the left of the court house is the oldest home in the town. It was also completed in 1820. The first rector gained a considerable income from selling baptismal certificates. He also caused an outcry by renting out the building as a tavern. Later it became a hotel and is now a private home.
- Roxborough: This was the birth place of the Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley National Hero. Fire destroyed the house in 1968 but the foundation remains. Mr. Manley's father purchased about 200 acres of this 1811 estate and reared cattle and did farming on a small scale. The family left Roxborough at the turn of the 20th century.
- St. Mark's Anglican Church. The Parish Church of Manchester was completed and consecrated in 1820. The tower was raised in the late 19th Century. This building features classic gothic details such as the pointed arch doors and window openings that adorn the building.
- Shooter's Hill - (See also Captain Heron's Tomb above.) The small community of Shooter’s Hill, near the junction of the B4, B5 and B6, is home to the factory that makes one of Jamaica’s best known exports – Pickapeppa Sauce. The sauce was first created here in 1921 by Norman Nash. Without financial resources, Nash sold the business in 1945 to the Lyn Kee Chow family. Operations began at Shooter’s Hill where the Pickapeppa factory stands today. The recipe is secret but is reportedly a mix of tamarind, onions, tomatoes, sugarcane vinegar, mangoes, raisins and other spices. Sweet and spicy, the delightful Pickapeppa Sauce goes with everything and is prized worldwide. The small factory will do 30 minute tours by appointment only. Closed weekends. Phone: 876.603 3439 or 876.603.3441
- West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University). West Indies College was founded in 1907 in Saint Catherine parish but closed in 1913. In 1919 the present school was founded on the 181-acre Coolsworth property, two miles from the town of Mandeville. Rose Cottage is one of the oldest buildings on the property; it was originally used to house teachers and then was used as a student dormitory. The college was recently afforded university status.
For hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&Bs in Mandeville, click here.
To find out more about the history of Manchester Parish and the surrounding area, click here.