This past week the airwaves were abuzz with news that the site of the former mental hospital at La Toc in Castries is to be the home of new offices for the Prime Minister, and the objection, for economic reasons, by leader of the Opposition (UWP) Alen Chastanet. There’s a lot of work to be done and it doesn’t look like the PM will be moving there soon!
After visiting every nook and cranny of this site, I think it should be used for something more noble…like a National Museum. Maybe finally the cries of Derek Walcott and others will be heard.
The site was all part of the fortress built “when nations battled for this Helen the West” being as it is at the mouth of the Castries Harbour. The Police Training Academy is another such building and so are others owned by the Bagshaws nearby. A look across the way is Vigie, and you will also see buildings similar in design and character.
The buildings that were Golden Hope (or the sad excuse for a mental hospital for many years) are majestic and stately and a mixture of the centuries old construction to new additions a few decades old. These old walls are sturdy and thick; the rooms with arches are spacious and so are the grounds. In fact, several stairways lead from the buildings into yards and a courtyard in the middle and to the back what would have been a garden; broad staircases still in good shape with iron bannisters; the modern rafters in some of the sleeping quarters are now populated by bats but elsewhere there are vaulted roofs of that period.
I am not against The PM relocating his office…but not there! Let’s use this for something better, for the PEOPLE, in keeping with our historic past that the building so already lends itself to. Before the bulldozers come rumbling in, let’s give some more thought to how best we can use the site. I think it would be crazy to do otherwise.