Tent Bay, St. Joseph, Barbados - BajanThings

Tent Bay, St. Joseph, Barbados

As part of the 2024 new year update and spring clean we have updated the BajanThings homepage. The new BajanThings homepage features a hero image of a fishing boat at Tent Bay, St. Joseph. Going forward we aim to change the hero image on the homepage regularly – and will add a homepage hero images library page.

Tent Bay is home to a small fish market, colourful local fishing boats, the Atlantis Hotel and further up the hill Andromeda House, the Bayley family get-away house and the location of a covert cold-war submarine tracking facility from 1954 to 1985/87. Tent Bay is in the parish of St. Joseph, with Martin’s Bay and Congor Bay to the south, and Bathsheba and Cattlewash to the north. Nearby was also the location for an iconic Bajan photograph the – “Martins Bay Fisherman” that hangs on the wall of the Atlantis Hotel. This iconic photograph was taken by Manuel Auguste Nunes Siza where the Quamins River meets the sea on the northwest end of Bath.

Between 1883 and 1937 the old railway from Bridgetown to Belleplaine stopped near to Tent Bay at Bath and Bathsheba. The Atlantis Hotel was one of the first hotels to exist on the East Coast of Barbados – made possible by the new railway line that opened up the Atlantic East coast as a holiday destination for Bajans.

Bathsheba and Tent Bay were two of my parents favourite places. It’s where they and their grandparents used to holiday.

Here are some bygone photos of the Powell Spring Hotel, Bathsheba St. Joseph Barbados. My memory of the Powell Spring Hotel was Mr. Carter and the barman Sammy who would make the parents and grandparents rum punch and the children Bentleys:

[Some of the images here were sourced from the Facebook Group: Old Time Photos Barbados searching for “Bathsheba” or “Powell Spring” or “Tent Bay” or “Atlantis”.]

Here are some bygone photos of the Atlantis Hotel Tent Bay:

[Some of the images here were sourced from the Facebook Group: Old Time Photos Barbados searching for “Bathsheba” or “Powell Spring” or “Tent Bay” or “Atlantis”.]

When my Dad was alive he loved the Bajan Sunday buffet lunch at the Atlantis Hotel.

Over the years taking Dad to lunch at the Atlantis Hotel we have witnessed the decay of Tent Bay fishing boat 01 Derek…

Preserving the historical integrity of old buildings, monuments, and sites is not inherently ingrained in the DNA of the Barbados Government. The HARP Gun, Victorian Blackwood Screw dock, hilltop signalling stations and many, many other historic Bajan buildings and monuments owned by the Barbados Government are woefully decaying through blatant neglect and lack of funds.

The Barbados National Trust that exists to protect buildings, monuments and places of National interest is so short of funds it can neither lobby effectively nor take over their upkeep. It is a serious tragedy for Barbados. The historic preservation of old buildings, monuments and places is just not a priority.

Those buildings and monuments that have been saved like the Nidhe Israel Synagogue and St Nicholas Abbey have mostly been saved by private individuals and communities.

For Barbados Government Ministers and Government Officials, maybe the exorbitant difference between the cost of hiring private executive jets or first class travel and the cost of standard economy for trips under 6 hours and business class travel for trips over 6 hours, could be funnelled as a starter into the Barbados National Trust coffers to help support the upkeep of historic Barbados and ipso facto support Barbados tourism?

For some additional background on Bathsheba and Tent Bay see:

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Responses to “Tent Bay, St. Joseph, Barbados”

  1. William Tomlin

    I very much enjoy reading the articles and comments in your Bajan Things.

    I do have some comments on your new Tent Bay cover. I was a long time resident of St. Joseph and spent lots of time exploring and fishing, spearfishing, getting sea eggs in the 1960s in Tent Bay including clambering out to the rocks with Drake and Gabby Edghill and William Ince to the left of the Bay and climbing through a small gap between two rocks and dodging the large wave sets coming through the gap to get to the other side to fish facing to the ocean.

    The original very active fish market building in front of Atlantis has been removed by the erosion and sea. There is no beach anymore where the many colourful fishing boats were beached.

    There was a beautiful, relatively calm and clear large lagoon that was protected by a secure reef to the outside and a reef to the right of Atlantis where the current flowed strongly but was diverted by the reef.

    I think it was the 1980s that the Fisheries Department decided to “modernize” the Tent Bay fishing operations. For many days a bulldozer entered the lagoon at low tide that protected the bay and cleared out the reef to make the lagoon bigger but it removed the protective function of the reef. Then an ugly concrete landing ramp was built to the left of Atlantis to bring the boats out. Don’t mess with the ocean, reef and sand.

    Very soon the lagoon that had originally was a natural passage for boats out through the protective reef was effectively open to the east coast ocean and what was a beautiful protected lagoon for anchoring boats and quite a large beach for boats to be pulled up, became no different than most of the exposed east coast to the large swells and current.

    Now there is no beach, the concrete ramp is inaccessible as the rough conditions have broken off the entry section, the fish market building has disappeared into pieces of concrete and it seems that the land enclosing Tent Bay is eroding even faster than it did before.

    Good intentions for Development gone bad!

    1. Martin Smyth

      Well said William.
      The Barbados Government spent a small fortune building the slipway, never mind that none of the fishermen with boats at Tent Bay did not want it at all.

      If the fishermen had not protested about having a small section of ‘beach’ (ha!) remaining so that they could still haul up boats, Govt would have filled in the whole section of ‘beach’ with boulders.

  2. Roger Murphy

    You make a very good point that Government assistance is woefully lacking not due to their desire to spend the peoples coffers for their own personal comfort but also let history drown as they believe its all about the white supremacy and privilege.

    That history should be preserved for generations to learn from and to appreciate.

    I for one appreciate the articles and photos it too reminds me of my youth and in my mind a better period of life not that we had more but we appreciated what we had and the simple things such as lunch of good Bajan food listening to the waves thunder and for a little boy the terrifying drive down Horse Hill

    Nuff said

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