KINGSTON PAST: Rockfort Gardens


Daily Gleaner, October 6, 1984


ROCKFORT GARDENS, the site of one of Jamaica's oldest popular recreational centres, has been demolished to make way for the new power plant which the Government expects to arrive from Taiwan later this year. But older residents of Eastern Jamaica, including Eastern Kingston, are not taking lightly to the demolition although the Gardens was abandoned some decades ago and was suspected to be the haunt of criminals.

Vehicles with passengers from as far off as Port Antonio, would slow down on reaching the site nowadays, as the passengers who are old enough to remember Rockfort Gardens look in amazement at what they regard as the destruction of their once treasured fun spot.

An elderly citizen of the Eastern Kingston area, recalling the heyday of Rockfort Gardens, said that on Sundays and on public holidays in the early part of this century, people used to dress themselves and take the tram cars to Rockfort, where they would have picnics and frolic in the park. "People outside the Corporate Area would travel in motor trucks to the park, and religious organisations would travel to Rockfort to baptize their converts in the sea," he said.

"The Rev Raglan Phillips, founder of the City Mission Church, baptised converts in the sea at Rockfort, and the Rev George Olson, founder of the Church of God in Jamaica and Ardenne High School, baptized four of his ministers in the sea at Rockfort in the year 1911," the citizen recalled.

Some residents of Eastern Kingston regard Rockfort Gardens as a tourist attraction which could be developed along modern lines and are of the view that alternately the site could be used as housing scheme for middle income workers in the Corporate Area who are contributors to the National Housing Trust, and who may never get houses due to the shortage of land space in the Corporate Area.

The power barge moored at Rockfort Gardens beach.