Built by the hands of slaves, served as a source of livelihood for thousands, the Dougaldston Estate, boucan, one of Grenada’s most iconic tourist attraction on the western side of the island that went up in flames in the early hours of Monday morning.
According to information reaching the Grenada Informer, firefighters were called in just after 3 am on Monday as neighbours were awakened by the cracking sound of fire ripping through the wooden building. Sources said although the firemen arrived in quick time, the entire building was already engulfed before work started on extinguishing the flames.
The entire boucan we were told, a place that was still used for drying of cocoa, nutmegs, cloves and other spices, was quickly reduced to rubble, leaving behind not just loss of income to the number of individuals who still work on the estate, but irreparable damage to Grenada’s tourism product and over three hundred years of Grenada’s history.
The Douglastdston Estate, originally owned by the Branch family, was one of the leading producers of bananas, and natural spices in Grenada. Its reputation over the years, its unique building designed and current function as one of Grenada’s main cocoa drying plants, still makes it the envy of the world as affirmed by visitors to Grenada.
One individual who spent most of his life working on the estate told our news desk on Monday that he is still trying to come to grips with the reality of the situation. He said the boucan means so much to him that he just had to cry looking at what was left from the place that provided his livelihood.
The man who did not want to be identified said he lost a daughter and did not shed a tear, but Monday morning he just could not hold back the tears looking at the damage done to the Dougaldston Estate Boucan.
Tourism Minister Dr Clarice Modeste said in a media interview, this is as major lost to the tourism product and one that may never be replaced.
Meanwhile, the cause of the fire remains part of a police investigation, however, residents from the village told our news desk that one individual, was heard using threats days prior, claiming that he would burn the building if the owners failed to pay him for work done.
Informer learned that the individual in question was seen in the area hours before the fire and was not afraid to state his intention; either the owners pay him for his labour or stand the consequence.
The Monday morning fire did not just destroy an iconic building but according to villagers some fourteen drawers of dried cocoa beans, the property of the Grenada Cocoa Association also went up in flames.
Informer learned that given the available space, the facility has been used over the years by the association to dry cocoa beans and nutmeg before export. What was destroyed on Monday we were told was in the region of eight thousand pounds and was due to be removed from the facility on Monday.
Henry was charged with two counts of arson indictable. His next court appearance is may 25th at the Gouyave magistrate court meanwhile he is remanded at Her Majestys Prison.