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Government finally announces plans to move on Eleuthera's Historic Preacher's Cave preservation

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image "William Sayle shipwrecked at Devil Backbone found refuge here. Sermons held 100 years." reads the plaque at the entrance to this historic location.

Preacher's Cave is where the first English Settlers of The Bahamas - The Shipwrecked Eleutheran Adventurers, sought shelter in 1647.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Charles Maynard announced at a town meeting in North Eleuthera, on Thursday evening, August 18th, 2011, that the government was finally ready to move forward with declaring the Preacher's Cave site a National Historic/Heritage Park.  With the Bahamas poised to sign on to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, shortly before current bahamian president of UNESCO, Dr. Davidson Hepburn completes his tenure in October of this year, Maynard shared, "Its been long in coming, but it will be very, very soon."

Inside of Preacher's Cave, North Eleuthera, the first English settlers of The Bahamas, The Eleutheran Adventurers, took refuge.

Jock Morgan, Chairman of the North Eleuthera Historical Society (NEHS) - a committed group of individuals who were involved with the Preacher's Cave site since 1991, spoke with The Eleutheran in 2008 about efforts having come to a standstill at that time.  According to the Chairman, plans had been prepared, inclusive of a caretaker's house, a museum, vendor shops, cabanas along the beach, bathrooms with showers and wood walks for bird watching - which in 2008 were, "laying under dust".

Mr. Jock Morgan of the North Eleuthera Historical Society, a resident of Spanish Wells, has been very passionate for many years about the preservation and recognition of the historical significance of Preacher's Cave in the heart of North Eleuthera.

Many artifacts which go back to prehistoric days have been found associated with the native Lucayans, and from the time of the Eleutheran Adventurers, the first English settlers of the Bahamas, who landed in 1647.  The site, according to Mr. Morgan had been proven to be the original home of the Eleutheran Adventurers.  In 2008 he was quoted as saying, "There was much skepticism about where it was and where it wasn't, but due to a number of the artifacts found, linked with that period, we've finally been able to say that this (Preacher's Cave) is where the shipwrecked adventurers sought shelter.  In the past 4-5 years, at least 4 achaeological trips have been conducted."

Speakers during the town meeting included Mr. Richard Johnson Chairman of the Commonage Committee; Mr. Jock Morgan, Chairman of the North Eleuthera Historical Society; Hon. Alvin Smith, M.P., Speaker of the House; and Charles Maynard, M.P., Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture. The meeting was moderated by Mr. Michael Pateman, Sr. Assistant Archaeologist, Antiquities Corporation (AMMC).

A wide cross-section of Eleutherans were represented, hailing from North, Central and South Eleuthera. Additionally, Eleutherans such as M.P. Ryan Pinder (2nd from left, Front) , who is resident in New Providence, travelled to participate in the important meeting.

Key persons in attendance were: North Eleuthera Administrator, Preston Cunningham; Ryan Pinder, MP for Elizabeth Constituency;  Charity Ambrister, Director of MOT Southern Bahamas; Jacqueline Gibson, MOT Eleuthera; Shaun Ingraham, One Eleuthera; Ian Carey, President of Rotary and his team; Bishop Chrestwell Cash of Lower Bogue; David Ambrister, Deputy Chief Councilor North Eleuthera District Council and fellow councilors; Abner Pinder, Former Chief Councilor Spanish Wells; Dr. Jane Day, Historian; Lynn Gape, Bahamas National Trust; Camilla Adair, Bahamas National Trust; Roderick Pinder, Chairman of the Governor's Harbour Historical Society; and Juanita Pinder, President, Eleuthera Branch of the Cancer Society of the Bahamas.

Minister Maynard, in his presentation to the local public began by emphasizing the significance of Preacher's Cave - comparing it to the Clifton Heritage Park site in New Providence, saying, "Preacher's Cave has more historical significance than the Clifton Park area by far, that's the reality."

He continued, forecasting the impact for communities surrounding Preacher's Cave and the wider Bahamas, "This is something that's going to have tremendous benefit for Eleuthera and for the Bahamas in terms not only of the economic engine that it could be, but also the historical value of it for future generations of Bahamians - to learn our history."   Also commenting on the tourism impact he stated, "from the economic engine standpoint, this development if properly done, could bring a whole new dimension to Eleuthera's tourism product."

(L-R) Mr. Michael Pateman, Antiquities Corporation; Hon. Charles Maynard, Min. of Youth, Sports & Culture; Hon. Alvin Smith, Speaker of the House; Mr. Jock Morgan, Chairman North Eleuthera Historical Society; and Mr. Richard Johnson Chairman Commonage Committee.


The Management of the proposed National Park, according to Maynard will be a wide partnership; between the Antiquities Corporation, represented on the evening by Mr. Michael Pateman; the Harbour Island Commonage Committee, represented by Chairman, Richard Johnson during the discussion; the North Eleuthera Historical Society, spearheaded by Mr. Jock Morgan; and the Bahamas National Trust, which had representatives, Lynn Gape, and Camilla Adair in attendance.

One particular issue which has not yet been settled in the proposed development of the Preacher's Cave National Historic/Heritage Park is the amount of land which will be declared historic.  Maynard proposed during the meeting that persons from the Antiquities Corporation sit down with the Commonage Committee and discuss what is adequate to develop the historical site.  He also added, "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm sure that the Central Government would be minded to replace whatever is deemed historical with Crown Land turned over to the Commonage Committee in and around the North Eleuthera area (this statement was met with hearty clapping).  The end result is, you wouldn't lose the total acreage that is now Commonage."

He continued, "Eleuthera is going to gain as a result of this tremendous project that's now waiting to go.  So it gives me great pleasure as the Minister responsible to be here at this moment in time when we are ready to say go with this project.  We believe that it is something that will benefit the people of Eleuthera.  It is going to benefit Bahamians everywhere."

Maynard wrapped up his presentation emphasizing the success of the evening's meeting,"So what we see here tonight again is consensus from the community at large that we should go ahead with this project - we should empower the technical people at the Antiquities Corporation to negotiate with the Commonage Committee in terms of exactly what parcels of land we want to deem 'historical' - to empower the Antiquities Corporation to work with its partners  in the National Trust and the Historical Society here to be able to finalize the plans for the development of the site."

The Minister of Culture, pointed out that the next step for the project is the business part of it; signing onto the Convention, and presenting the proposal in the House before the formal declaration, saying, "We are very excited about presenting Preacher's Cave, shortly after us signing on to that convention...  We can now get to the icing on the cake with the cherry on top, which is the business part of it.  The fact that we would be in a position to develop the site so there is a vending part of it, so there are nature tours that could be done, that will benefit the taxi drivers and all of those within the hospitality industry - those who have guest houses in and around North Eleuthera - all of these things would now get a boost as a result of us properly developing that site and getting people to come and visit and spend time around there."
Image Gallery
Wide cross-section of Eleutherans from North, Central and South attended. (L-R) Mr. Michael Pateman, Antiquities Corporation; Hon. Charles Maynard, Min. of Youth, Sports & Culture; Hon. Alvin Smith, Speaker of the House; Mr. Jock Morgan, Chairman North Eleuthera Historical Society; and Mr. Richard Johnson Chairman Comm. Committ Preacher's Cave meeting held in Lower Bogue Jock Morgan, North Eleuthera Historical Society Chairman, presenting. Attendees listen as Maynard announces upcoming plans to declare Preacher's Cave a National Historic Park. Ryan Pinder, M.P. for Elizabeth. (L-R) Hon. Alvin Smith and Mr. Jock Morgan. Councilor Theo Neilly of Current, Eleuthera. Draft plans for the Preacher's Cave site development.
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Kelly Blair on 26 August, 2011 07:25:32
Prayers and concern for Eleuthera...and for Jim Jordan and Cocodimama. My hart goes out to you as news of Irene is reaching us.
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