Ordnance Island, Bermuda
Location in Bermuda
|Owner||Government of Bermuda|
|Built for||War Office|
The only island in the town, it covers just 1.75 acres (7,100 m2) and was created by reclaiming the land between several small islands which were once situated here. The original islands of Ducking Stool, Frazer's and Gallows were used, in the early days of the colony, for executions.
Joined together to form Ordnance Island, they became a Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) depot in the 19th Century, supplying ordnance to forts and batteries around St. George's. Prior to this, munitions had been kept within the town (as at the time of the 'Gunpowder Plot', when 100 barrels of gunpowder were stolen at the request of George Washington, and sent to the rebellious Americans during the American War of Independence), and on Hen Island, further out in St. George's Harbour. An accidental detonation on Hen Island resulting from a lightning strike once smashed windows throughout St. George's. Ordnance Island is far closer to the town, and a similar explosion here would have been catastrophic. The RAOC operated a second, smaller depot, from a wharf on East Broadway on the outskirts of Hamilton. By the Second World War, the depot had fallen into disuse with the Army and was loaned to the US Navy for use as a submarine base from 1942 to 1945.
The channel between Ordnance Island and the King's Square was not bridged 'til after the Second World War. The island is visible as a location in the 1962 film That Touch of Mink, with Cary Grant and Doris Day. At the time, the bridge was clearly wooden. Today, the island is joined to St. George's Island by a concrete bridge.
Most of the buildings erected by the Army and the US Navy have been razed. One large Army building, the Storekeeper's House remains, and was recently refurbished as offices for the Corporation of St. George. The only other buildings on the island are an office of HM Customs used to clear visiting yachts, and a new cruise ship terminal. There is, however, a prominent replica of the Deliverance located on the island. The original was one of the two ships built by the survivors of the Sea Venture, flagship of the Virginia Company, which was wrecked in Bermuda in 1609, accidentally beginning Bermuda's settlement.
The Major Donald H. (Bob) Burns Memorial Park on the island includes the Desmond Hale Fountain statue of Admiral Sir George Somers (credited as the founder of Bermuda, and at the helm of the Sea Venture when she was driven on the reefs) which was unveiled by Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon in 1984, during the 375th anniversary of the shipwrecking. The Memorial Park was unveiled on April 20, 1997 during the Twinning Ceremonies with Lyme Regis.