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June 01, 2010


Rick Lowe

Wonderful story Larry.
Thanks as usual for your historical perspective on these stories.

Godfrey Lightbourne

On August 31, 1956, a few of my chosen crew and I (Cavalier Construction) set off in Bahamas Airways’ twice monthly widgeon goose service to GEORGE TOWN.

We set up the upstairs of the Minns’ home as a dormitory to accommodate 12, and I claimed the annex, which must have been built after Lawrence Lewis purchased the property in 1954.

Mr. Lewis wanted to build an inn of 20 rooms and Lorne Minns (brother of Basil) had done a preliminary design from which I then completed details and structural designs, including retaining walls and two 100,000 gal. rainwater tanks, one under each new building.

The “Old Horse Eye” with Captain Percy Sweeting aboard arrived not too long afterward with our first order of lumber and essentials, both from Kelly’s Lumber Yard and Kelly’s Hardware. My very close friend Basil Kelly saw to all matters of getting “her” loaded. That was done in the back of J. P. Sands' grocery store, where the Sunley Building is now located. A half-ton Chevy pick-up and a rex ½ cu. yd concrete mixer comprised our heavy equipment.

Excavation of the rainwater tanks was the key to progress, and we set to work with rock axes, picks, shovels and dynamite! We proceeded with a few chosen hands who had arrived on ”Old Horse-Eye” and a keen work force conscripted from Georgetown, Mt Thompson. Rolletown. Forbes Hill and Moss Town. Later hirings reached as far as Rolleville, Barre Tarre and Richmond Hill.

Our work force gradually built up to 60 men, including electricians and plumbers. Our electrical contractor was K.S. Darling and Co, with super Sammy Brennen. And our plumber was W.C. Johnson (good name for a plumber) His son, Creswell, was on the job, and has never left Georgetown.

Of special mention was our time-keeper, Felix Bowe. He was the brother of Max Bowe of “The Forest” fame, and related to Nigel Bowe.

Felix had once represented Canada in the Olympics, and had serves as Out Island Commisioner in West End, Grand Bahama during Probition days. I dined at his residence and gained an education of our Bahamas which I would otherwise have missed. He was second to none.

As an engineer I had cut my teeth in Nassau supervising construction jobs for Audley Boyce - the first Prince George Wharf extension and what are now named Pioneer Dock and John Alfred Wharf, the Dolphin Hotel structurals, and the foundations at Nassau Beach Hotel, renovations for Harold Hoffer, and a toilet extension for Jack Bott.

I selected some key men from the forgoing, as well as Octavis Brennen who had just completed the Towne Hotel under Ralph Parks.

We worked late unloading “Old Horse Eye” when she arrived. I was even able to take 10 days off to go to Bermuda and get a third in the Snipe Western Hemispheres Championship, with Geofrey Johnstone as my crew.

Linton Rigg gave authority for the new Heron aircraft to land on the “then not handed over first airport”. Reason being, the scheduled Widgeon was not able to make it, and Mr. Rigg needed to catch the same BOAC plane as us to New York.

In addition to Mr. Rigg, I had the pleasure every morning at coffee time from the TWO TURTLES (Messrs Morton and Charles Turtle) who had recently retired and were living on Stocking Island.

Excavation and construction went ahead. No inspectors came from anywhere, but our concrete and construction was good.

Our cracked rock aggregate was broken along the roadsides by ladies who with hammers earned 2 shillings a bushel, which we collected in our Chevy truck. We did have some outside help - John Marshall, who trucked in water from the abandoned naval base, and Captain Sweeting when “Old Horse Eye” was in.

Construction began on September 1, 1956 and the Peace & Plenty was ready for a soft opening on April 7, 1957 for that year's Out Island Regatta.

The inn cost 60,000 pounds and took seven months to complete. I was never able to get future Cavalier jobs to best that, although Club Med first phase was the next closest.

I look forward to your columns, and admire your research.

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