Manchester Parish

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Manchester
Manchester in Jamaica.svg
Location latitude 17°51'N,
longitude 77°38'W
Capital Town Mandeville
Major towns Christiana, Mile Gully,
Newport, Porus, Williamsfield
Bordering Parishes Clarendon, Trelawny, Saint Elizabeth
County Middlesex
Area 830 square km
Rank Jamaica's sixth largest parish
Population 190,000 in 2001
Commerce Tourism, Agriculture
Bauxite Mining, Manufacturing

The Parish of Manchester is located in west-central Jamaica, in the county of Middlesex. Its capital, Mandeville, is a major business centre, and the only parish capital not located on the coast or on a major river. The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley (d. 1969), one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, was born in this parish.

Brief history[edit]

Taino/Arawak settlement in the parish was substantiated when in 1792, a surveyor found three carvings, believed to be Amerindian Zemi, in a cave in the Carpenter's Mountains.[1] They are now at the British Museum.

Park Crescent, Mandeville (2012)

Manchester was formed in 1814, by an Act of the House of Assembly, making it one of the newest parishes of Jamaica. It was formed as a result of the amalgamation of the parishes St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and Vere. The amalgamation was done in response to a petition from the inhabitants of Mile Gully, May Pen and Carpenters Mountain who complained that they were too far away from an administrative centre. Manchester was named in honour of the Duke of Manchester, the then Governor of Jamaica. He was governor for 19 years, setting the record as the longest serving Governor of the island. The capital town, Mandeville, established in 1816, was named after his eldest son, Lord Mandeville.

No sugar estates can be found in the parish; slaves worked on coffee plantations. After emancipation, the ex-slaves became independent coffee farmers. The irish potato was first introduced to Jamaica at Bethany, a town in the parish. Citrus also became an important crop, as in 1920, the citrus fruit ortanique, a cross between the orange and tangerine, was developed by Charles Jackson.

Many of Jamaica's businesses were started in Mandeville; the Mandeville Hotel, one of the oldest in the Caribbean, began operations in 1875. The first "Free Library" in Jamaica was established in 1938, and is the oldest Parish Library.

MegaMart, Mandeville under construction in December 2012.

The growth of the town was given a substantial stimulus when Alcan Bauxite Company opened operations there. It built houses for its then mostly expatriate staff. The relatively high wages lured many educated Jamaicans there. Mandeville continues to grow rapidly due to it being considered one of the most attractive towns in Jamaica and the cleanest of them all. Mandeville boasts no fewer than 14 shopping centres, two hospitals (one public and one private), medical centres and many doctors. Next to Kingston, it provides the best medical services in the island, a major asset for tourism development.

Mandeville and its environs has fertile land – known as "the bread basket in the island." Natural health cuisine, nature tours and walks, organic farming and a healthy lifestyle is normal in this mountain area. The potential for health and fitness tourism is tremendous especially with a cooler and more refreshing climate. Recreational activities are golf, tennis, squash at the historic Manchester Club which boasts of having the first golf course in the Caribbean, badminton, horseback riding, birdwatching and more.

Geography[edit]

Mandeville, the parish capital is located at latitude 17°51'N, longitude 77°38'W. Manchester is bordered by St. Elizabeth in the west, Clarendon in the east and by Trelawny in the north. Manchester covers an area of 830 km², making it Jamaica's sixth largest parish. It has three mountain ranges — the Carpenters Mountains, the May Day Mountains and the Don Figuerero Mountains. The highest point is 2,770 feet (840 m) above sea level in the Carpenters Mountains.

Mile Gully Mountain (2010)

Over 90% of the parish's surface is limestone so there is an abundance of cockpits, sinkholes, caves and underground passages. Gourie Cave, near Christiana, is the longest of the over 100 caves in the parish, as well as the longest known cave in Jamaica (3505m). Smokey Hole Cave, in Cross Keys, is the deepest known cave on the island (195m). Oxford Cave, near Auchtembeddie, in the NW part of the parish, is another of the major speleological sites found in Manchester, and was once noted as a roosting site for the now possibly extinct bat species, P. aphylla. Manchester also has large bauxite deposits, with parts of the parish having been strip-mined as a result, notably in William's Field, Hope and Blue Mountain.

The parish offers a variety of climate, vegetation and scenery. The capital, Mandeville, is situated at an elevation of 626 m (2,054 ft). The town is noted for its natural beauty and salubrious climate as temperatures range from a low of 12.7 °C (55 °F) in December and January, to a high of 33 °C (91 °F) in July and August. There are very few rivers in the parish, and the existing ones are rather small; Alligator Hole River, Alligator Pond River, Gut River, Hector's River, Two Rivers and Swift River. Hector's River runs along the border of Manchester and Trelawny, sinks at Troy where it flows underground for approximately six kilometres and rises below Oxford Cave as One Eye River. Despite this, water supply is generally scarce; the southern districts often suffer drought.

The population of Manchester is 192 155 Mandeville, the capital and chief town of the parish, has a Mayor, Brenda Ramsay and a deputy mayor, Irving Facey. It has a population of over 30,485.

Commerce[edit]

There is no large-scale cultivation of crops as the area is generally mountainous. Crops such as sugar cane require large tracts of flat land. Bananas, coffee and pimento, annatto, ginger are grown, and the parish is noted for its citrus; oranges, ortaniques and grapefruit, much of which are exported. Christiana, 28 km (17 mi) north of Mandeville, is the second largest town of the parish. The Christiana Land Authority assists agricultural development in the region. Irish potato is grown considerably in the Christiana area and it is the centre of a large banana and ginger-growing district.

Windalco, Alumina plant in the background (Kirkvine, Manchester)

Manchester is a centre of the bauxite mining industry. The first bauxite mining companies were Alcan and Alpart. Alcan, a large world-renowned Canadian company, had a strong presence in the town and was one of the main employers. It lured many Jamaicans because of high salaries and the benefits offered. Alpart, short for Aluminum Partners of Jamaica, was initially formed as a joint venture of Kaiser Aluminum, Reynolds Aluminum, and Anaconda. It is still in operation in Nain St Elizabeth parish, however it is now jointly owned by UC Rusal of Russia and Hydro Aluminum of Norway.

Television[edit]

ZQI-TV (TVJ) Channel 13, Spur Tree, Jamaica, Hype TV, CVM, NCU Television (Ch. 188- Flow)

Special attractions[edit]

  • Norman Manley, founder of the People's National Party, was born in Roxborough in the south of the parish.
  • Marshalls Pen Great House - is a 200 year old great house on a wildlife sanctuary.
  • Factory Tours - High Mountain Coffee Factory, Pioneer Chocolate Factory, Bammy Factory, Pickapeppa Company, Bauxite Factory.
  • Mrs. Stephenson's Garden - is one of Mandeville's prized home flower gardens.
  • Captain Alexander Woodburn Heron's tomb at the top of Shooter's Hill, now called "Heron Hill" by the local -Captain Herons Tomb

High Schools[edit]

The leading high schools are Manchester High School, Bishop Gibson High School' (an all-girl school), Belair High School (American system) DeCarteret College', Holmwood Technical High School, Beaumont Comprehensive College (High School). All these high schools are among the best in Jamaica, producing many exceptional pupils who have become physicians, lawyers, politicians, athletes, radio personalities, musicians, among others. For example, Manchester High school has produced many prominent alumni such as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Dixon, former Custos of the parish and retired Physician Dr. Gilbert Allen, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences (UWI, Mona) Prof. Evan Duggan, Broadcaster/Communication consultant Gerrard "Gerry" McDaniel (a former Head Boy and co-composer of the school song SIC LUCEAT LUX), Academic/Senator/ Former Cabinet Minister Dr. Dr. Christopher Tufton, prominent neurosurgeon Dr. Carl Bruce, musicians Ricardo "Rik Rok" Ducent and the international reggae ambassador, Jepther "Luciano"McClymont.

Universities[edit]

There are several notable tertiary institutions, the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), a Seventh-day Adventist institution, formerly called West Indies College, the Church Teacher's College, Mandeville and the Catholic College. There are also other religious-based institutions, the Jamaica Bible College and the Bethel Bible College, located in the parish.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 18°03′N 77°32′W / 18.050°N 77.533°W / 18.050; -77.533