Antigua Nelson's Boatyard

English Harbour, Antigua

English Harbour, Antigua's graceful and evocative historic district, is focused on the fifteen square miles of Nelson's Dockyard National Park. Developed as a base for the British Navy in the great age of sail, the harbour served as the headquarters of the fleet of the Leeward Islands during the turbulent years of the late 18th century. Although the dockyard was greatly expanded at that time by Horatio Nelson, it was gradually abandoned in the nineteenth century and was closed in 1889. Today Nelson's Dockyard has been completely restored, and it is now the only Georgian dockyard in the world.

English HarbourAlmost all of the park's other sites of interest overlook the harbour. The closest of these is Clarence House, a residence built for the future King William IV (1765-1837) when he served under Nelson as captain of the H.M.S. Pegasus. Further above the harbour, at Shirley Heights, are the partially-restored fortifications of the harbour's colonial observation post; the view from Shirley Heights extends out over the harbour and far across the Caribbean to Montserrat and Guadaloupe. On Sundays the vista is enhanced by barbeque and live music at the bar there (Steel Band music from 3-6 pm & reggae from 6-9). Shirley Heights can be reached via Lookout Trail, a nature walk that rises from the harbour through a forest of trees--descending the trail is not advisable after dark or barbecue revelry.

Along Lookout Trail and near Shirley Heights is Dow's Hill Interpretation Center, at which visitors can watch an impressive multimedia presentation of Antigua's history, from its initial settlement to independence. Observation decks at Dow's Hill provide another fine view of the harbour, as do the ruined fortifications of Fort Berkeley, located on the far side of the bay and reached by a walk around its perimeter. All of these points, as well as the park's convenient beaches, become especially popular spectator positions during Sailing Week.

Image on top via Flickr (cc) user David Stanley

This page, and all contents of this Web site are Copyright (c) 1996-2014 by interKnowledge Corp., New York, NY. All rights reserved.