St Helena Online

Tag: Ladder Hill Fort

Simplicity makes Ladder Hill life so beautiful, writes Doreen

Boy running, Ladder Hill Barracks. Picture by Guy Gatien
Jordan Stevens running at Ladder Hill Barracks. Click the pic to see more of Guy Gatien’s pictures

Doreen Gatien 100People living in Ladder Hill Fort have been warned they may have to move out in two years, to make way for a hotel. Writer DOREEN GATIEN, now living in California, cherishes her memories of a barracks childhood. Click here to see a gallery

The headlines coming out of my beautiful island are not very warm and fuzzy. Airport dust is one thing, the introduction of mobile phones is another; the diabetes crisis is shocking.

But to hear that the Ladder Hill Barracks community will have to leave is very regrettable.

At the barracks, in the before days
At the barracks, in the before days

I have barely heard more than a whisper, so I am unable to sense how my fellow Saints feel about all of the changes. I just know that when I sit quietly and think about them, I feel pretty sad.

Why are the Ladder Hill community homes described as “poor-condition”? Is it because some of the people still light a geezer for bath water? Or because there is no front door parking or two-car-garage homes?

Not having all of this is what makes living in Ladder Hill beautiful. My family and I grew up there and will always be so very grateful for it.

My mother has lived there for over 55 years. She was the cook at the Government guest house, Signal House, just around the corner.

She is the oldest person there, and has really felt a sense of belonging, sharing in neighbours’ joys and sorrows, and them sharing in hers.

Child of the barracks
Santara, Marjorie’s neighbor

She lives in what one of our friends from England, who dropped by one day when I was visiting at home, called “a beautiful little cottage.”

Why does Andy Crowe, the housing executive, have to “assure the community” that they will get something “new and better?” Why would the Ladder Hill community want “somewhere better” to live, or “something new and better?”

The very reason for wanting to build a luxury hotel in the historic Ladder Hill Barracks is the same reason why it will be a day of great sadness for those who are forced to leave.

For all, there are fond memories of being able to stand at the top of Jacob’s Ladder with tourists climbing the 699 steps and collapsing at the top; memories of the war cannons sitting on the edge of the cliff, the war tunnels, the forts, the Colonnade with its long stretch of storerooms, Secondary Selective School, the telephone exchange, Signal House.

My mother is elderly, but still has the courage to live alone. But I know that with her cheerful and contented spirit, wanting something different is the least thing on her mind, which is why she still lives at Ladder Hill Barracks today.

Picture gallery: Ladder Hill Fort, then and now
Hotel plan means ‘better homes’ for Ladder Hill Fort tenants

Doreen Gatien with her aunt and mother
Mum, Doreen and Esme waiting for the world to go by. Click the pic to see more of Guy Gatien’s pictures

Hotel plan means ‘better homes’ for Ladder Hill Fort tenants

People whose sub-standard homes could be taken over by tourists have been promised new and better housing. HARDEEP KAUR reports.

Families will have to move out of their homes at Ladder Hill Fort to make way for a luxury hotel and self-catering apartments. 

The fort is currently the site of 21 government houses, and at least 14 of them will be affected – possibly all of them.

Discussions with tenants were sparked after the recent visit by heads of the Mantis Collection hotel group.

St Helena Government’s housing executive, Andy Crowe, assured them they would get somewhere better to live, possibly in the new low-energy housing project planned nearby in Half Tree Hollow.

He said: “It has always been recognised that Ladder Hill Fort would make an excellent hotel.

“We hope that out of this it will be winners all round: winners in the sense that we get the hotel that the island needs, and winners in the sense that tenants who are currently living on Ladder Hill in some in some quite poor-condition houses will end up in better properties.

“In the meantime, we are not going to turn our back on those properties. If there is work needs doing, even if it’s only going to last a couple of years, we will do the work.

“We will be consulting tenants individually over the next six months over what their needs are, where they would like to go, and who they want to live next to, because we don’t want to break up that community.

“We would rather just move the community.”

Andy said he was keen to involve tenants in the design of their new homes.

He also said the government would be giving “plenty of notice” of any developments.

He told them: “If anything happens, it’s going to be the best part of two years, so please don’t start packing or start worrying at the moment.”

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Reporter Hardeep Kaur is a journalism student at Birmingham City University. This story is based on a SAMS Radio 1 interview. Bulletins can be heard at

Hoteliers fall for island’s cliff-top fortress

Ladder Hill Fort has been chosen by visiting hoteliers as the ideal site for them to create luxury tourist accommodation.

Adrian Gardiner, founder of the Mantis Collection, said: “I think it’s one of the most exceptional sites I have seen in the world.”

He told radio interviewer Darrin Henry he would like to see it with between 30 and 35 guest bedrooms, and ten self-catering units, serviced by the hotel. There would be a breakfast room overlooking the sea, a small spa and a fitness centre.

“I’m hoping by the time we get on the ship we will have shaken hands on a deal that just needs to be put on paper.”

Mantis Collection chief executive Graham Moon said impressions of the island had been “overwhelming and positive.”

He went on: “I have travelled all over the world and the only place I can compare St Helena to is the Galapagos Islands, which are one of the greatest tourism products in the world.

“St Helena has this potential to draw people, but the existing tourism product needs to be aligned to what the airport will bring. I think we need to enhance the adventure, active and natural side of the island; the historical element is an added bonus.”

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Government property for sale ‘effectively, now’ (comment added)

Buildings and land owned by St Helena Government are about to be advertised on the open market, according to Stuart Planner of Enterprise St Helena. But anyone who needs property for a business needn’t wait, he said.

They are for sale “effectively, now”, he told listeners to Saint FM. “Come and talk to me.”

Architects are due on the island in August to look at the redevelopment potential of historic assets, including the public works store in Jamestown, and some of the so-called “chief secretary” houses that have traditionally been used to house government officials.

They could be given a new life as hotels and guest houses, he suggested.

The visiting experts will also consider the how the wharf area could be re-used once the airport is open.

“St Helena government still owns in excess of 80% of lands and buildings on the island. A lot of those buildings weren’t being used effectively and with a bit of moving around we could get SHG to own less, which means more for the public sector.

“Anything is possible on this island but we have to have to have in mind what we are doing: we are trying to create a fantastic place for tourists to come and for the island to enjoy. We have to have a regard for the word ‘sustainability.’

“We are gearing the economy towards low volume tourism. There are going to be large operators on the island but everything is going to benefit.

“We have a couple of large hotel development opportunities but the island needs diversity – guest houses and small hotels, restaurants, bars, warehouses, workshops and, of course, houses, so anything is possible on this island.”

Stuart said he wanted to see the market in Jamestown refurbished, and used to sell the fresh produce that tourist establishments would need.

“We are trying to create a fantastic place for people to come. Opportunities exist but they have to fit with the sustainable development plan. Any development must be sustainable, not only in the way it is built but how the business is run within it.”

Asked about the potential to turn Ladder Hill Fort into a luxury hotel, he said: “We have some fantastic assets and we need to start work with architects now to look at these schemes.

“Before anything is done we have to look into the welfare of the tenants there. That means new housing. Nothing will be done until that housing is ready.”

  • A new law was enacted on Monday 16 July 2012, formally establishing Enterprise St Helena as the body responsible for economic development on the island. It has now formally replaced the St Helena Development Agency. A government statement said: “Up to now ESH has been operating in name only, as sanctioned by the former SHDA board of directors.”


Re: “The visiting experts will also consider the how the wharf area could be re-used once the airport is open.” This is something which seems to be being totally overlooked: how large items and cargo are going to be transported into St Helena after the airport arrives. It is likely that there will be more requirement for cargo coming in by sea after the airport arrives. Especially with the amount of development this is going to trigger. Not only does St Helena need its airport it also requires somewhere to berth cargo vessels – ie, a harbour. This could also offer enhanced facilities for cruise ship and yacht visits.

Robert Thomson

£3 million enterprise body is vital for better future, says Paul