Scarborough Folklore, Culture & History

  • Scarborough History

    • 17th Century

      • 1674 The Dutch built ‘Sterreschan’, the castle in lower Scarborough, whose foundations have been excavated in recent years. In those days, Scarborough was not the capital of the island, which it was not to become until almost 100 years later.
      • 02 1677 The French fleet under Vice-Admiral Compte Jean d'Estrées arrived off Tobago in February 1677. They landed 1,000 men on 21 February 1677. On 23 February 1677, a French officer demanded a surrender - Binckes declined.
      • 03 03 1677 The French attacked greatly helped by the capture of a Dutch vessel, whose pilot treacherously agreed to lead the French into Rockly Bay. The French entered the bay in two columns and launched a withering fire to which the Dutch replied, the outcome being not so much a battle as a slaughter. The French withdrew with casualties of over 150 killed and 200 wounded.
      • 06 12 1677 The French had claimed a somewhat dubious victory and a humiliated Louis XIV acted swiftly, ordering a new fleet to be equipped. D'Estrées, once again commander, left Brest for the Caribbean in the autumn of 1677. The Dutch were slow to send Binckes' relief, a squadron under commander Hals was to arrive too late. D'Estrées disembarked 1,500 men at Palmiste Bay on 06 December, this time he attacked the fort only from the land.
      • 12 12 1677 French guns opened fire on 12 December 1677 to a fierce Dutch reply. The first of a new type of French fireball hit the gunpowder supply as Binckes and his staff were having lunch directly above the powder magazine. The explosion killed Binckes, his staff and half the garrison. In the ensuing confusion, the French seized the fort and the remaining Dutch ships, destroyed the fortifications, surrounding plantations and houses, and captured the inhabitants. D'Estrées then departed for Martinique, and once again the island was abandoned.
      • 1677 Ferocious sea battles were fought between the French and the Dutch in Scarborough harbour in 1677.
    • 18th Century

      • 1769 George Town in Barbados Bay was made capital of the area by the then British administration, but in 1769 they decided to move it to Scarborough - the only capital in the Lesser Antilles to be located on the Windward side of an island.
      • 1778 An American squadron - Britain being at war with its American colonies - attempted an attack on Tobago. The squadron comprised two ships of the line, three brigs and a schooner. They were engaged by the British battleship HMS Yarmouth of Gogans. During the encounter, the American ship Randolph of 36 guns was blownup with her crew of 315 men. The remainder of the American squadron withdrew.
      • 1779 Fort King George was built, which helped the English little when Tobago was once more captured by the French in 1781, who duly renamed it Fort Louis.
      • 1781 Tobago was once more under siege, this time again by the French who succeeded in capturing the island. The French with nine ships were sighted on 23 May 1781. The British were under Lt. Governor George Ferguson.
      • Ferguson had, upon sighting the French, immediately mustered all able-bodied men, some 427, comprised of planters, militia, sailors and regular troops. The French first attempted a landing at Minister Bay, named by the Dutch as Luggarts Bay, but high seas drove them off. They then tried close to Scarborough at Rockly Bay, but once again the weather proved too bad for a landing.
      • The following day they succeeded in landing 3,000 men at Great Courland Bay, Plymouth. Having wiped out the fortified position there, Major Hamilton of the militia who had manned a two-gun battery at Black Rock across the bay was able to bring the French ships under heavy fire, until he was forced to retire. Ferguson in the meantime had retreated strategically and regrouped his men at Concordia, on the heights above Scarborough and not far from Mason Hall, fighting a guerrilla action all the way.
      • The French general Philbert Blanchelande in hot pursuit, demanded their surrender, having set up a battery at French Fort, a cotton estate which overlooked Concordia. A French attack on the English position failed in the night as the French lost their way. Ferguson and his small band refused to surrender, requesting the French general 'not to trouble me again upon this point'.
      • From the heights of Concordia, Ferguson was able to see more French troops landing at Plymouth and was forced to wait until the dead of the night to fall back to the base of the main ridge, the site of the present day Caledonia estate (near to Hillsborough Dam).
      • He did this so well that when the French stormed his position the next day they found that he had gone. In headlong retreat and fighting off the French, Ferguson led his men towards the high woods where he had prepared a fortified position of last resort. The French by this time landed some 400 men at Man o' War Bay, determined to take the English from the rear. Still the British resisted. It was only when the French started to burn the plantations that Ferguson's force, exhausted, very short of ammunition and food, decided that the wisest course of action would be to surrender. 1781 The French duly renamed Fort King George as Fort Louis.
  • Folktales From Scarborough

    • Fort St George. It is remembered that a ship attempted to sneak out under cover of darkness. The fort opened fire. Her captain was forced to bring her to, as a shot could have taken his main mast down.
    • After centuries of war, peace finally came to Tobago, the old guns continued to serve a very useful purpose in keeping the people of Scarborough and the surrounding countryside informed of the time for closing their business places, and also for retiring for the night. Carlton P Ottley
    • Nightly, whether rain or shine, on the stroke of eight, one of the cannons would boom out. This was the signal for all the rumshops in the town to shut their doors, and so would all would head of home.
    • The sound of the gun meant the end of activities for all. The children who had been playing in the full moonlight went home. It was the same for the lovers sitting among the ruins of the fort, and neighbours resting on the doorsteps, and for the young man who had come to court his bride: when the eight o?clock gun boomed, everybody went home. Carlton P Ottley ?Tobago Legends and West Indian Lore?
    • A man by the name of Clay was the last timekeeper to fire the gun. Unfortunately, he blew off one of his arms one night, but this did not gainstay him from his post. The story is told of how he got the time from the wardens office clock. Well, one night the clock had stopped. Clay had no idea and had not noticed. By the time he had discovered this, it was nine o?clock. He fired the cannon all the same. This was the cause of much confusion, and it was several days before the ?time? was re-established in Tobago. Carlton P Ottley ?Tobago Legends and West Indian Lore?

Scarborough folklore

Music from the heart, Rhythm Tigers Fort Street, Sarborough's traditional steelband. The conventional steelbands are All Stars from Wilson Road, Euphonic Sounds from Wilson Road and Our Boys Fort Street, Sarborough.