The Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society (BHFNPS), founded on 10 April 1965, celebrates its 48th birthday with a bang, literally. Instead of cake, we got something better, our new baby girl and she’s a beauty! Her name is Betty and she’s a brand new 3 pounder (meaning she fires a three pound cannonball) 18th century reproduction cannon. Betty’s arrival was long in coming. The story begins in 2010 with a quest to add to Brimstone Hill Fortress’ already impressive cannon collection by obtaining a gun on a field carriage, the type of wheeled carriage on which the early guns of Brimstone Hill would have been mounted. Up until now, all of the guns in our collection were on the fixed garrison carriages, therefore depicting the latter stage of the fortress’ development up to its abandonment in 1853. The guns on wheeled carriages seen on the grounds at Government House are examples of the earlier armament that would have been at Brimstone Hill. In fact these very same guns are believed to have probably been taken from the fortress at some point.
In 2012 while serving on a World Heritage Fellowship with the U.S. National Park Service at San Juan National Historic Site (SJ NHS), the General Manager discussed his quest to obtain an example of one of Brimstone Hill’s early guns with his counterpart at SJ NHS, Park Superintendant Walter Chavez. Walter indicated the National Park’s support for this endeavour and directed the GM to speak to Ernesto Padilla, Senior Park Ranger and weapons specialist at SJ NHS. Ernesto resourcefully used his contacts to scour the USA and Canada to source a reputable reproduction gun maker while the GM committed himself to hunting for a benefactor to pay for the cost of obtaining such an item.
A few months after, during the Re-enactment of the 1782 Siege of Brimstone Hill, Mr. Don Beale, leader of the Queen’s Light Division (QLD), learned during a conversation with the GM of the efforts to acquire this gun and made a generous offer to fund its purchase. Even after her birth in a foundry many more challenges arose in trying to transport “Betty” to St. Kitts. However, all’s well that ends well, as the Society’s gift has arrived just in time for its birthday.
The new 3 pounder bronze cannon is now proudly on display on its wheeled wooden carriage in Room 16 of the Fort George Museum, next door to the Campbell Evelyn and Helen Skerritt Exhibit Room (Room 17). With this new acquisition comes a fuller interpretation of the evolution of the artillery defences of Brimstone Hill as this is the only example in our vast collection of the earlier more mobile guns that once armed the Hill. In addition to being a static display, Management is presently working on other ways of using Betty to interpret the exciting and dramatic history and heritage of Brimstone Hill and St. Kitts, so stay tuned.
The Council of Management of the BHFNPS wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the U.S. National Park Service, particularly Senior Park Ranger Ernesto Padilla, Mr. Don Beale and Mr. Ken Seagal of the QLD, Mr. Cuthbert Woods and the staff of Woodsrite Enterprise, Mr. Calvin Edwards of the Ministry of Finance and Mr. Bell of H.M. Customs. Happy 48th Anniversary to the Brimstone Hill Society as we gladly welcome Betty to our collection.
Cameron St. Pierre Gill, MA
Betty being revealed as her packing crate is opened at Woodsrite Enterprises.
Photo by Cameron Gill
Mr. Cuthbert ‘Cutie’ Woods (looking at camera) and his staff at Woodsrite gently removing Betty from her crate. Photo by Cameron Gill
Mr. Bernard Vanterpool, Senior Museum Attendant BHFNPS demonstrating the use of the “worm” for cleaning the barrel to BHFNPS and Woodsrite staff upon arrival at the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. Photo by Cameron Gill
Betty being hauled up the steps to the Fort George Citadel by BHFNPS and Woodsrite staff. Photo by Cameron Gill
Betty being manoeuvred in the Courtyard of the Citadel by Woodsrite staff under the close supervision of BHFNPS staff. Photo by Cameron Gill
Above two photos BHFNPS and Woodsrite staff striking a pose with Betty
Above photos Betty on display in Room 16 of the Fort George Museum.
Photos by Cameron Gill
Close up of Betty’s nameplate. Photo by Cameron Gill