Friday, 5 October 2007

A Month in the Country

One of the pleasures that I looked forward to each summer holiday was going to spend a few weeks at Duncans, Trelawny, with my Uncle Rodney and Aunt Marjorie. They lived at a house on a hill, not far from Duncans, called "Friendship". My uncle, Rodney Smedmore, was a sugar technologist who had worked at various sugar estates in Jamaica. Some time after he got married he went to work for Arnold Muschett at Georgia and Vale Royal Estates in Trelawny.



Arnold Muschett was born St. Elizabeth in 1882 and married Amy Houchen in 1909. Although they had no children they were both very involved in several charitable bequests for the children of the area including several scholarships, and they donated 25 acres of land for the erection of a school in Wakefield. My thanks to Donald Lindo for the photo and information about Mr. Muschett.

According to Inez Knibb Sibley's book, Dictionary of Place-Names in Jamaica (Kingston: Institue of Jamaica, 1978), Vale Royal in Trelawny consisted of a number of small estates including Georgia, as well as others that I'm not familiar with.
This old postcard of Vale Royal Estate probably dates from between 1910 and 1913. Uncle Rodney would also go quite often to Long Pond Estate, as well as Vale Royal and Georgia. The Great House at Georgia was very beautiful and we would often go to visit the Muschetts there.

My memories of how I actually travelled to Trelawny from St. Andrew are somewhat vague. Sometimes we went by car when Uncle Rodney came up to town to fetch me and we would drive the route from Kingston through Spanish Town and Bog Walk (over the scary Flat Bridge),
on to Linstead and Ewarton, over Mount Diablo... a steep, winding, narrow road over the mountain... then down through the green pastures of St. Ann through Moneague and Walkers Wood, towards Ocho Rios, then along the coast road through St. Ann's Bay, Runaway Bay, Rio Bueno,and then to Duncans. From there we climbed a hill on a marl road which eventually took us to "Friendship".

Once or twice, though, I would travel by train, probably accompanied by my mother. We would board the train in Kingston at the railway station

and then begin the exciting trip going through places with strange and exotic names -- Balaclava ... Maggotty ... Catadupa ... Montpelier ... Anchovy ... ending up at the station in Montego Bay. The train would probably have looked something like this:
Olive Senior, in her excellent book, The Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage (Red Hills: Twin Guinep, 2003), reports that early travel on the train one way from Kingston to Montego Bay could take an entire day. I know that we always packed a lunch! By 1952 diesel rail service was instituted and the round trip between Kingston and Montego Bay could be done in a day. In September 1957 a horrendous accident on the railway line at Kendal caused the deaths of 175 people with 400 people injured. You can read about it at the Jamaica Gleaner's Pieces of the Past. Rail service was ended in 1992, after running for 150 years.

More often than not, however, we would travel by car. Going over Mount Diablo was the highlight of the trip. Since one could not see around the hairpin bends it was necessary to blow the horn loudly at every curve. All along the way we would pass vendors selling fruit
and we would stop to buy oranges and mangoes in season. I remember that my poor mother suffered terribly from car sickness and we had to stop a few times along the route when she felt ill.


But at last we would arrive at "Friendship" and the holiday would begin. Next time I'll write about what it was like to be in "the country" ... so different from my life at 5 Holborn Road.

13 comments:

Judith said...

'Sigh'
Lovely as ever.
But what, pray tell, is "marl" (in one word?)

Dorothy said...

Kind of hard to put it in one word, Judith. Marl is a combination of clay and other sedimentary stuff including shells. It looks almost white and was what the roads were made of in that area ... not paved.

aaronmair@gmail.com said...

Well done! I just love the style and format in which you relate your story & family history. I wonder if the Olive Senior, whose book you refrenced, is a descendant or relative of Bernard Senior? It is by marriage to the Seniors that the Mairs found their way to Jamaica to manage their holdings. Graham Nassau Gordon Senior-Milne, 41st Baron and 28th Lord if Palatine of Mordington relates the following tidbit on the Mair-Senior connection:
"Nassau William Senior (1790-1864), a barrister, of 13 Hyde Park Gate, was educated at Eton and Magdelen College, Oxford. He was the son of John Raven Senior (1763-1824), Vicar of Durnford, Wiltshire, who married Mary Duke (1769-1822), daughter of Henry Duke (d. 1780), Solicitor-General of Barbados. John Raven Senior was the son of Nassau Thomas Senior (d. 23 June 1786) of Bath and Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, who married Frances Raven (d. 1790), daughter of Dr. John Raven. Nassau Thomas Senior was the son of (Moses) Aaron Senior, as above. Nassau William Senior married Mary Charlotte Mair (1792-1883), daughter of John Mair of Iron Acton. "
It was from this marriage that the and subsequent management of Senior Jamaican plantations that Mairs saved up enough to found and create Mair Hall. A study of old Maps of Westmoreland and Hanover Parishes reveal the proximity of these respective family holdings.
Respectfully,
-Aaron Mair

Anonymous said...

Dear Dorothy,
The post cards are wonderful. I am collector. I have my family collection going back to 1908.
Would you by chance like to part with the one Near Troja? Troja is the birth place of the Douglas family for more than 150 years. We still own a farm there.
I am willing to purchase the post card from you.
Elizabeth Wood Lewis
harewood03@yahoo.com

Family of Charles Graham Douglas and Charles O'Connell Douglas

Anonymous said...

Dorothy, a friend has just sent me the link to your blog. How very interesting, particularly since I was born in Falmouth, where my grandmother lived. My father was born at Ashton, near Duncans, and was the local historian in his later years in Falmouth. How I wish I had taped some of his stories! I knew Arnold and "Granny" Muschett, and there is a connection that goes back many years between our families. Look forward to returning to your site and reading more...

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. I have been exploring Jamaican Railways and actually walked through that tunnel last year. The track was still in place but very overgrown.

Anonymous said...

Loved your stories! Came across them wen searching for photos of Rio Bueno, and your photo of your family on the white sands was linked to my search. Beautiful story telling.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dorothy. Amy Muschett is my great, great aunt. I could not understand if you are related to her or not?

Anonymous said...

Hello Dorothy. Amy Muschett is my great, great aunt. Amy actually tried to adopt my mother (her great niece). I could not tell if you are related to Amy or not?

Anonymous said...

My sister & I recently began the journey of researching our family history. This morning I came across your writings and I am so impressed at the information you have uncovered. I too have Levy in my family tree. My grt grandmothers mother was a Levy. I have not yet discovered her first name. I lived at the Georgia Great House in 1970 when my husband was an engineer for Long Pond Estates. The article brought back memories of that time. Absolutely fascinating.

Jacqueline Grant Kent said...

So interesting. I lived at the Vale Royal Great House at Long Pond from 1966-1973 when my father (Gerald Grant) was a manager there. I noticed a picture that you labeled the Long Pond factory. I have a picture of the Great House at the time I lived there and at the foot of the hill leading up to the house is the ruins to what I was always told was the old factory. I am wondering if the picture you have dated in the early 1900s is the same factory - only before it was in ruins. I was given this link by a lady who also lived at Vale Royal in the 1930s-40s - we seem to be building a history between us.

Dorothy Kew said...

Hi Jacqueline:
Thanks for your comment! I checked out your website ... very nice! Do you mind if I link to it on my blog?

I'm afraid I don't know the history of the Long Pond factory. The photo is of a postcard which I assume to be around early 1900s. It could very well be that the ruins you mention are of this factory.

Dismanirie said...

Lovely blog, Dorothy. A delight to read. My late parents (James and Maisie Rush) used to live at Trelawny Estates when my father was General Manager between 1963 and 1970 (I think those were the dates).

Of particular interest was Jacqueline Grant Kent's memory of living in the great house at Vale Royal, where we also resided for a couple of years before moving to new housing built by Seagrams closer to the Clark's Town-Duncans road.

I went back there with my wife and kids in 1985 and was terribly disappointed to note the decay and deterioration at Vale Royal, which we observed only from outside the house.

One thing I do recall was the huge mahogany dining table at Vale Royal, which had apparently been installed when the house was built, as it was a single piece of mahogany which would never have passed through the doors.

Fond but scary memory also of witnessing an obeah ceremony at a nearby village with my younger brother one night. We were so terrified of being caught that we ran all the way home through the fields, arriving pale and breathless and covered in cuts from the cane leaves!

I have great recollections of swimming at Silver Sands and catching flounder in the surf with old umbrella ribs, and on the way home we would pick up the tastiest bullas at a bakery in Duncans.

Kind regards,

Peter Rush

Arras Memorial

Arras Memorial

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore
My uncle Victor