History of Parlatuvier

17th Century

1660's Many books on Tobago gives the romance of Bloody Bay, where an English fleet under Sir John Harman defeated a combined force Dutch and French, some time in the 1660s. So bloody was the battle that the sea turned red. But the only record in which Sir John engages those nations describes a battle off Martinique. And the origin of Bloody Bay's name remains unsolved.

It might be noted, however, that the early Dutch maps give it the name 'Rasphuys Bay'. Rasphuis, according to English historian Simon Schama, was a 17th century workhouse in Amsterdam where brazilwood was powdered to produce dye. The timber was rasped by convicts, and hence the name 'rasp house'. Indeed, until 50 years ago Parlatuvier, the village in the next bay, still had a sawmill. And one of the most important dyewoods from the district, called redwood, used to also be known as 'bloodwood', for it stained the rivers in which it was floated.

20th Century

30.09.1963 At 12:40 hours on 30 September 1963, Hurricane Flora, with winds of 90 to 100 miles per hour and gusts even stronger at an estimated 120 miles per hour, swept in from the Atlantic onto the island of Tobago's eastern shores. Many hurricanes had struck the islands to the north - an annual occurance - Tobago was not expecting it so the population was only given two hours warning prior to the advent of the storm, very little notice and though some hurried preparations were undertaken, it could not be sufficient to avoid the destruction that was to be so immense. In many instances entire villages were destroyed and sixty percent of the island's houses were demolished. Twenty-four lives were lost and 31 people were seriously injured. The economic infrastructure of Tobago suffered a similar fate; crop and property damage was estimated at around $30,000,000. To make matters worse, Tobago's economic base, composed primarily of plantation-grown cash crops, never recovered. This put many families out of work.