Since Independence (from the English) in 1966 Barbados has been a stable little Island.
Its people have moved on from small moderate and yes, large beginnings to form a nation.
Full nationhood as a people was grounded in education, and in the economic or financial movement to true independent living.
The greatest of these movements may be seen in the people of small/ moderate beginnings, and is visible in the size and type of dwelling.
The “chattel house” was first designed to fit the plantation labourers’ needs after Emancipation, and later copied in other parts of the island. It is still fondly remembered and indeed is a preferred form of structure or house design for many to this day. Many adopted the design or parts of it, even though their houses may no longer have been “chattel”, i.e. movable. I figured that this could be because (at leat for me) these dwellings give one more a sense of home – cosiness, comfort, airiness or what I like to call ‘breathability’. They cosset you without the feeling of confinement that bricks and mortar buildings can sometimes engender. Perhaps it is the wood, or maybe the air-flow, or the smell, or perhaps it is just sentimentality..
I grew up on stories and sights of how these dwellings developed as families grew. In our family, I was told, when whomever of the great-great grans came to live in Barbados they spent their money on land and then lived in a ‘one-roof’; or ‘shed-roof’ as my grandmother called it. It was a take on these chattel dwellings which was modified thus: A new room or roof added as children were born or grew. This until enough space was had or money allowed.
That is no longer the case of course, as the wooden bungalow was superceded by the wall (brick and mortar) structures of which there are many today. A measure of and a testament to the changes in financial wealth, and independent living.
Those who were of larger beginnings also moved on in their architectural taste and style, yet too they sometimes built their second or beachfront homes from wood; and included aspects of the “chattel house” design in their homes.
Barbadians are proud of their homes whether they be large or small. And so am I.