Island Heritage - Barbados National Heroes

April 28th, is the day Barbadians celebrate National Heroes Day. A day of celebration for the lives and contributions of ten of the most outstanding individuals who helped shape Barbados into what it is today.



Their stores are told at the National Heroes Gallery an interactive museum opened in Bridgetown, in the West Wing of Parliament Building. The museum, in operation since 2006, traces the lives of each hero, depicting their story in a series of sculptures, artifacts, interactive screens and murals created by local artists. It provides visitors with valuable insight into several impactful events that helped shaped today's Barbados. The location is also a part of Historic Bridgetown and Its Garrison - World Heritage Site.


Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Bussa (Unknown - 1816)
  • Bussa was born a free man in Africa, but was captured and brought to Barbados as a slave.
  • He worked on 'Bayley's Plantation', St. Philip as a ranger (a position that allowed movement from place to place and most likely made it easier to arrange a rebellion.
  • On Sunday, 14 April 1816, he led "the Bussa Rebellion" the first large rebellion orchestrated in the British West Indies used as an attempt to Rebellion to influence the abolition movement.
  • He led roughly 400 freedom fighters on that day but was killed in battle. The remaining fighters were later defeated by superior firepower.
  • During the battle, 1 civillian, 1 officer and 50 rebels were killed . 70 more rebels were executed in the fields, 144 stood trial and were executed and 132 were sent off to other islands.
  • The revolt is said to have inspired the future large scale slave rebellions in Guyana (1823) and possibly also in Jamaica (1831-1832)
  • Slavery Was finally Abolished in 1834

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero
Charles Duncan O'Neal (1879-1936)

  • Charles Duncan O'Neal, was a medical doctor, a community leader & humanitarian in the 1920's & 1930's.
  • Medical student of the Edinburgh University in Scotland (gaining a distinction and the Blue Ribbon in surgery).
  • 1932 member of parliament for Bridgetown where he was an avid advocate of social reform
  • Said to be the first politician in Barbados to rally for improved working conditions and leadership positions for women in the work place.
  • Fought for free education and dental care for children as well as for improved housing for the poor.
  • Fought for the abolition of "Child Labour" as well as the abolition of the "Located Laborers' System" and "The Master and Servants Act"
  • Credited as the Founder of the Working Men's Association a "proto-union" and for the Establishment of the radical Democratic League.

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero
Clement Osbourne Payne (1904-1941)

  • Trinidadian born Clement Payne was a pioneer in the Caribbean trade union movement pioneer
  • Living in Barbados from the age of 4, Payne attended the Bay Street Boys' School in Barbados.
  • Payne returned to Trinidad at the age of 23 becoming an advocate of social reform and trade unionism.
  • Payne returned to Barbados and encouraged black resistance to the white planter class and rallied for trade union legislation. For four months in 1937, he held several fiery public meetings in the City to educate and advocated against injustice, deplorable working & living conditions and for social reform for the poor. These meetings eventually led to his deportation to Trinidad.
  • Paynes deportation sparked 4 days of riots & looting leaving 14 dead, 47 wounded, 500 under arrest and resulted in millions of dollars in property damage.
  • The resulting commission of enquiry (The Moyne Commission) led to the several island reforms and to the introduction of trade union legislation.
  • Payne died four years later at the age of 37 in Trinidad

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Sir Errol Walton Barrow (1920-1987)
  • Errol Barrow flew in the Royal Air Force flying 45 operational Bombing missions and rising to the rank of Flying Officer
  • After the war he obtained degrees in Law & Economics, studying alongside several future leaders of Canada, Guyana, Jamaica and Signapore.
  • 1955 founder & 1958 leader of the (DLP) Democratic Labour Party, a liberal alternative to the conservative BLP government. Over the years the party was known to have accelerated industrial development, expanded the tourist industry, introduced Social Security, the school meals system, National Health Insurance and expanded unsegregated, free education to all levels.
  • Served as Premier of Barbados from 1961 until 1966 subsequently leading the country to independence from Great Britain in 1966 (Hence being known as the Father of Barbados' Independence)
  • Consequently becoming the first Prime Minister of Barbados in 1966 and re - elected in 1971 then again in 1986
  • Barrow also spearheaded the formation of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) now known as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and was responsible in part for enacting the Treaty of Chaguaramas to strengthen Caribbean economic ties.
  • He died as PM in 1987 and was named a National Hero of Barbados in 1998.

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Sir Frank Leslie Walcott (1916-1999)

  • Frank Walcott started activities in the trade union in his mid 20's, serving the Barbados Workers' Union for over fifty years.
  • Barbados' first Ambassador to the United Nations after the islands Independence.
  • A DLP minister and member of parliament from 1945 to 1966 and from 1971 to 1976 and a DLP Senator from 1967 to 1970
  • Three time president of the Caribbean Congress of Labour; member of the International Labour Organisation and former VP of the Executive Board of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
  • After Barbados gained its independence in 1966, He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1954 Queen's Birthday Honours.[3] In 1987 Walcott was conferred the highest honour in Barbados; he was made a Knight of St. Andrew (KA) of the Order of Barbados.

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers (1936 to Present)

  • Former West Indies cricket legend, playing the sport professionally from 1954 to 1974 and said to be one of world cricket's greatest all-rounders.
  • Originally a bowler but swiftly promoted to batsman.
  • Set the record for highest individual score in an innings at 365 not out for the West Indies against Paskistan in 1958. Sobers batted for 614 minutes and scored 38 fours and no sixes. The record remained for almost 30 years until broken by Brian Lara in 1994.
  • At 21 Sobers'365 made him the youngest triple centurion.
  • West Indies team captain from 1965 to 1972
  • Played 93 Tests for the West Indies, scoring 8032 runs at an average of 57.78, and taking 235 wickets at an average of 34.03.
  • Played 383 first-class matches, scoring over 28,000 runs and taking over 1000 wickets.
  • Sobers was the first batsman to ever hit six - sixes in a single over of six consecutive balls in first-class cricket in 1968.
  • Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975 for his services to cricket.
  • Scored a career, 23 test centuries and 3 test fifties as well as 86 centuries and 12 fifties in first class cricket.

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Sir Grantley Adams (1898-1971)
  • Sir Grantley Adams was the third child of seven and a former Harrison College student.
  • Winner of the 1918 Barbados Scholarship he went on to study law at the Oxford University.
  • Father of "Tom" Adams (who later became Barbados' second Prime Minister in 1976).
  • 1938 founder of the Barbados Progressive League now known as the Barbados Labour Party (BLP)
  • He became the First Premier of Barbados and in doing so improved the rights of the poor & underprivileged, provided women with the right to vote and laid the ground work for establishing workers unions in Barbados.
  • From 1958 – 1962 also acted as the Only Prime Minister of the now defunct West Indies Federation defeating his opponent by only two votes.

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Sir Hugh Springer (1913-1994)
  • A former Harrison College student and a 1931 Barbados Scholar.
  • Studied at Hertford College in Oxford then went further to study Law at Inner Temple, London, later becoming a great influence in public education policy-making in the Commonwealth.
  • Sir Hugh Springer was an organizer of and the first General Secretary of the Barbados Workers' Union (1940 - 1947)
  • Was the islands third native Governor-General.
  • Former The General Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party
  • Past Director of the Commonwealth Education Liaison Unit; Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General and Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Samuel Jackman Prescod (1806-1871)
  • Samuel Prescod was a free coloured, born of a black mother and a rich white father.
  • Was educated at St Mary' became a journalist and a leader of the coloured community. As a journalist, Prescod wrote for the first, non-white newspaper, "The New Times" but after eight months was fired for radical views. Notably he went on to part own a working/ middle-class newspaper "The Liberal" which he acquired when the newspaper fell into financial strains and continued to share his liberal views.
  • Through his deeds and work in politics, which began in 1829, he sought to sought to create educational facilities (primary, secondary & tertiary) for the children of ex-slaves as well as to allow coloureds the freedom to buy land by removing preventative unfair practices. Having land potentially allowed them to vote as voting was linked to land ownership.
  • He became the first person of African descent to be elected (for the new constituency of Bridgetown) sit in the House of Assembly.
  • He is noted to be a founding member of the Liberal Party (containing mostly small landowners, businessmen, and coloured clerks)
  • In 1860 Prescod became Judge of the Assistant Court of Appeal.

Briefs on The Life of A National Hero

Sarah Ann Gill (1795-1866)
  • She was a free coloured, born of a black mother and a white father into the racist slave of the 17 & 1800's.
  • Sarah married, had one son and upon her husbands death she inherited property from him - she was 28 years old.
  • Sarah joined the Methodist faith encouraged by missionaries who came to the island in the early 1800's.
  • She opened her home as a Methodist church, after the missionaries were chased from the island by the white planter class, who burned the mission to the ground. (at the time missionaries were viewed as anti-slavery agitators and agents of the Anti-Slavery Society).
  • As a non-white, a woman and a different kind of believer during that time, she was physically abused, threatened, shot at while in her home and persecuted by the law twice for holding illegal meetings, but still continued.
  • She later donated the land on which the first Methodist Church was built in Barbados the James Street Methodist Church, in Bridgetown.
  • As Such she is noted to have helped establish the first alternative to the white-dominated "Church Of England" in Barbados through her commitment to religious freedom.

History of Barbados 
National Heroes Gallery
Museums and Heritage Sites
Bridgetown and its Garrison
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