Monday 18th March and Tuesday 19th March 1968 were to be memorable days for the whole of Carriacou. They were to be days of celebration and, after years of waiting, Carriacou was finally to have its very own airstrip.
As everyone in Carriacou knows, travel to and from Grenada, or any other island, prior to the airstrip, had to be undertaken by private boat or ferry. Two ferries, Starlight V and Miriam B, plied their way between Carriacou and Grenada. When Starlight came ‘up’to Carriacou, Miriam B went ‘down’ to Grenada. The journeys usually took anywhere between 4 and 7 hours depending on the weather. They could be very sociable affairs with lots of chat and endless games of dominoes. The crew would put out a long, trailing, fishing line and every so often someone would scale the mast and sit on the top (usually after a jack or two).
After the opening of the Airstrip the journey to Carriacou could be made in less time than it took to play a game of doms. Personally, I always preferred the ferry and still do but there is no doubt the Airstrip was sorely needed and Carriacou became much more accessible.
The Itinary for the two days had been carefully planned. Monday’s routine was set out as follows:
10.45 a.m. His Excellency the Governor, Honourable Premier and Party leave Pearls.
10.50 a.m. His Excellency and Honourable Premier arrive Lauriston airstrip, to be met by Parliamentry Secretary and Acting District Revenue Officer.
11.15 a.m. His Excellency and Premier arrive Mermaid Tavern.
p.m. CRICKET MATCH
Carriacou/Petit Martinique 11 vs Premier’s 11 at Beausejour Playing Field.
The Carriacou Livestock Exhibition was held on Tuesday (I’ll write about that in a later blog) and afterwards came the ceremony to open the new airstrip.
Again the Itinary was very precisely laid out as follows:
4.55 p.m. Premier arrives at Lauriston Airstrip (State Anthem by Police Band).
4.58 p.m. His Excellency the Governor arrives Lauriston Airstrip (National Anthem by Police Band).
5.00 p.m. Parliamentary Secretary, Carriacou introduces Honourable Minister for Communications, Works and Natural Resources.
5.05 a.m. Address by Honourable Minister for Communications, Works and Natural Resources.
5.10 p.m. Parliamentary Secretary, Carriacou introduces LIAT representative.
5.15 p.m. Parliamentary Secretary, Carriacou , introduces Premier who will deliver an address and invite His Excellency to declare the Airstrip at Lauriston open.
6.30 p.m. – 8.00 p.m. Reception at Belair Park.
A list of distinguished visitors and where they stayed appears in the Itinary as follows:
Honourable Errol W. Barrow Prime Minister, Barbados – Mermaid Tavern.
Honourable Edward de la Blanc Premier, Dominica – Mrs Mott’s Guest House.
Honourable John Compton Premier, St. Lucia – Mrs Mott’s Guest House.
Honourable Milton Cato Chief Minister St. Vincent – Belair Park.
Looking at these arrangements from the perspective of our modern times I find it amazing that two of the most important politicians in the Caribbean were lodged in the the middle of town in Mrs Mott’s little guest house. Security was much more relaxed in those halcyon days and accommodation a little more limited than today.
The ceremony itself went like clockwork and the speeches were delivered from a temporary structure where the terminal stands today. The cutting of the tape was carried out by His Excellency the Governor with Shirley Mclawrence, Carriacou’s Carnival Queen, in attendance. As the Airstrip was about to be declared open little Billy Mott ran out and looked as though he was going to run up to the Governor. Fortunately he stopped and turned to have his photo taken which gave his mum time to retrieve him.
In the evening there was a party at Belair followed by a dance at Hillsborough Government School.
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