After approximately 15 long years of waiting the Joe’s River Pedestrian Bridge was officially re-opened at the handing over ceremony on 17th December 2020.
Joe’s River is one of only a few above-ground rivers found in Barbados. It has gone through many name changes since the 17th Century which included being called a Streamlet and the St. Joseph’s River after the owner of the property Joseph Thorne. The river originates in the uplands of Chimbarazo, one of the highest points on the island, and makes it’s way down into Frizers Valley before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
The footbridge spans a distance of 70 feet over Joe’s River and is built on the foundation of a former bridge used by the Barbados Railway which ceased operation in 1937. In the past, Joe’s River Bridge played an integral part linking Cattlewash to Bathsheba. Without this bridge residents would have to do the trek by road that involved walking up a few steep hills or manoeuvring around rocks that they would have to climb or navigating the beach – trying not to get sand or sea in their shoes.
I remember this bridge fondly from my childhood and remember being amazed when looking up at the bridge how solid and strong it seemed. Back in those days the river ran freely collecting in a large pool before reaching the ocean. We had so much fun jumping from the rocks into the pool. Some of the biggest cray fish I’ve ever seen came from Joe’s River.
Over the years it was sad to see the bridge deteriorate but we could still access Bathsheba as the owners of the then Edgewater Hotel very kindly had a pedestrian path that all and sundry could use.
Fast forward to 2016, by this time the hotel had a new (Australian) owner determined on keeping what was used freely as a public right of way for so many years private. The Barbados Water Authority was also laying a new pipe and filled in a part of the river so that the heavy duty equipment could cross and everything changed…. With this construction, much of the original natural wall that ran along the river and many mature trees were destroyed… The new owners demanded that what was originally a natural embankment be replaced with very large boulders… Sadly with the placement of these huge boulders broken glass was also embedded into the rocks and any other area of entry was blocked using tree trunks nailed together. All of this effectively blocked the general public from accessing the road by the bridge.
Fast forward now to 2020 and we have an amazing new bridge. Many thanks to Damian Brooker and Edward Ince, also to Terry Barnett, Gerald Phillips and Joseph Wilson the trio who did the hard, heavy lifting work that made the bridge a reality…
Thanks also goes out to the Future Centre Trust in conjunction with the Barbados Trailway Project, the Tourism Development Corporation, the Barbados Museum, Solar Watts, and the many other entities who have given of their time and donations…
The reopening of the pedestrian bridge is a blessing to all who traverse it, whether for hiking, walking, as a means of getting to work or school, sightseeing, etc.
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for bringing it back to life!