St Helena Online

Tag: Nick Thorpe

Cables versus cobbles: the battle of Main Street

Revealed, and then lost: 18th Century paving. Picture by Museum of St Helena
Revealed, and then lost: 18th Century paving. Picture by Museum of St Helena

With fibre-opting cables linking government buildings up and down Main Street in Jamestown, government staff will in future be spared from having to pop across the road to deliver documents.

And if there’s no need for people to walk anywhere, then perhaps one can see why pavements might not seem very important.

Cobbles exposed. Picture: Museum of St Helena
Cobbles exposed. Picture: Museum of St Helena

Not even pavements that were laid in when the East India Company built the fine array of Regency buildings that are so admired by visitors to St Helena’s capital.

The government and Enterprise St Helena might be pleased with this step into the digital age, but Nick Thorpe, defender of island heritage, is not.

The pavements – of carefully-laid cobbles edged with flagstones – have been hidden beneath concrete for years, but the important thing for Nick was that they were still there, intact. Their restoration remained a possibility.

The Museum of St Helena was asked to keep a watching brief on the ducting work, in the hope of discoveries – of a tunic button from the uniform of the St Helena Regiment, perhaps.

Nick mourns the loss in a letter to St Helena Online and the Independent:

“The accompanying pictures show expertly crafted and laid 18th Century paving stones in Main Street,” he writes. “These flagstones no longer exist: they have been destroyed in favour of communications ducting. It is a very sad thing when a government has too much money and no taste. The Castle courtyard is a good example of how things can be done well.”

Nick also despairs of a new pavement with “old-fashioned” bollards outside new Porteous House in Jamestown. He says it has “no historic or aesthetic value”.

(One other point raised by Nick is being clarified with St Helena Government). 

Kew advises “little and often” regime to protect ancient trees

Care of historic trees on St Helena has been improved on advice from experts at Kew Gardens in London, says the island government.

Concern was raised about a 200-year-old tree in Jamestown after the Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate gave a routine warning that it might need to be cut down during maintenance work.

St Helena Government says guidance has now been taken from London on protecting ancient trees.

It says: “ANRD has taken up the advice Kew offered and now undertakes monitoring and surgery work more frequently and lightly on our historical trees.

“The trees are managed and maintained so as to not reach a state where heavy surgery works are required in a single year, in order to protect public safety and SHG liability.”

It says “very modest” work was planned to improve safety for two people living close to the tree in the lower part of the Duke of Edinburgh playground.

A public notice warned that more severe work might be necessary, including complete removal of the tree.

“This provision is often inserted into the public awareness notice by Crown Estates in case it is needed,” says the government.

Everything historic seems to be disappearing! Who can we get as a “guardian?”
And what will be next? Napoleon’s house? – Doreen Gatien, California

Nick bemoans lack of protection as work starts on ancient tree

Nick bemoans lack of protection as work starts on ancient tree

“To beautify Jamestown” – a warning has been issued about work on a tree planted 200 years ago

Concern has been raised for the fate of a tree that has stood in Jamestown for two centuries.

Nick Thorpe, a champion of conservation on St Helena, has now complained that trees have no legal protection on the island.

Works notice warns of possible “severity”

A public notice has advised that pruning works would be taking place on trees in the lower part of the Duke of Edinburgh playground – a favoured haunt of fairy terns – on 5 and 6 November 2012.

But the notice warns that its condition might mean more severe action – and “could result in the removal of the tree”.

Nick said: “These trees were planted by Governor Dallas to beautify and shade Jamestown. He didn’t foresee that two hundred years later, the St Helena Government would regard them as a menace rather than an asset.

“There are no tree preservation orders on St Helena .The power to make them is a provision in the new Planning Ordinance. It will mean that any proposal to lop, top or fell [a protected tree] will be the subject of a development application.”

St Helena Government says it acts on advice from experts at Kew Gardens in London.

The Column: is there a surreal world inside The Castle?

The idea of turning part of The Castle in Jamestown into a hotel takes an unreal turn in The Column. Did island philosopher Nick Thorpe really mean to suggest that inside The Castle is “a surreal world in which all your control patterns… begin to fall to pieces?” Plus: another idea for a potential new hotel (tortoises included), and St Helena’s ultimate Christmas getaway – from the in-laws. Read it here.

Missing piece of paper that left island without onions

A lack of onions on St Helena has come about because paperwork was not handed over.

The port authority in Cape Town, Transnet, refused to let thousands of onions be loaded aboard the RMS St Helena.

The result, according to island retailer Nick Thorpe, was panic-buying in the shops as customers snapped up what few onions they could find.

No more will come until August, he said.

His agent in Cape Town has now told St Helena Online what happened.

He said: “A hundred and seventy bags of onions were booked for W.A. Thorpe on the RMS voyage 176.

“However, as the clearing and forwarding agent failed to submit the necessary shipping order to Transnet, they refused to load the cargo.

“The shipping order is a Transnet document which must be submitted for all bulk cargo being exported.”

Paperwork problem leaves St Helena crying out for onions