The parish of Hanover, located on the western end of Jamaica, bordered by the parishes of St. James to the east and Westmoreland to the south, is famous for its natural land locked harbour and picturesque surrounding hills which forms a perfect backdrop to the Georgian structures in the parish capital, Lucea.
The parish of Hanover (Jamaica’s smallest parish) was formed out of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland on November 12, 1793. It was named for the reigning monarch on the British throne who was from the House of Hanover in Germany.
The capital town Lucea has been known by many names – Sant Lucea, St. Lucia and St. Lucea. In the centre of Lucea, as with all other capital towns in Jamaica is a clock tower. This clock was not originally intended for Lucea however.
The story of the Clock Tower
The story is told that the clock was intended for the island of St. Lucia, in the eastern Caribbean. However, the captain of the ship confused both places and landed the clock – a gift from Germany for the people of St. Lucia – in Hanover. The townsfolk refused to let go of the clock although they had originally ordered a more modest version. They made up the difference through public subscription.
A German landowner in the parish offered to erect the tower, provided he had a free hand in its design. Today the clock, with the top of its tower in the shape of the helmet worn by the German Royal Guard, remains a landmark in Lucea.
The still fully functional Lucea clock tower was built in 1817 and stands in the town center near the Old Lucea courthouse.
From the middle of the 18th century, the people of Lucea provided the rest of Jamaica with most of its produce but mainly exported bananas until the 1960s.
Lucea is the home of the Lucea yam, which was exported to feed Jamaicans working abroad.
History of Ruseas High School
The story is told of a Frenchman named Martin Rusea, who willed all of his estate for the establishment of a ‘free school’ in Hanover. This was done in appreciation for the hospitality which was shown to him by the people of Hanover when he was shipwrecked and washed ashore while fleeing religious persecution in his homeland. Today, Rusea’s School is one of the pillars of education in the parish.
HISTORIC BUILDINGS AND PLACES OF INTEREST
The fort was built in 1761 for the defense of Lucea which at that time was in danger of attack by French raiders. The fort stands on a peninsula overlooking the bay.
Ruseas Campus II
Alongside the fort is an impressive Georgian brick structure known as The Barracks, which was built in 1843 to provide shelter to the soldiers stationed there.
In the early 20th century it became the educational center for the town and has now been transformed to become part of the Rusea High School complex. In 1982 Rusea High School was
merged with the Hanover Secondary School and is still known as the Rusea High School (Fort Charlotte).
The harbour is considered to be one of the best in the island. Although small, ships from Kingston and Montego Bay sought refuge there during the hurricane of 1951, as it was considered one of the safest harbours. It is almost completely cut off from the sea, only being connected by a narrow channel at its entrance.
The birthplace of National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante, Blenheim is located four miles (6.4km) west of Lucea in the Hanover Hills.
Other notable tourist attractions are Lucea’s many historical sites that date back as far as the 18th century. Lucea Parish Church (the Parish Church of Hanover) is one of the oldest churches in Jamaica. Although no record of when it was first built exists the first baptism record dates back to 1725, the first burial was in 1727, and the first marriage in 1749. It is said that there is a tunnel that leads from the church to nearby Fort Charlotte, which was a safe haven in time of war. The Hanover Museum sits on the site of a prison dating back to 1776, and houses many historical artifacts significant to Hanover’s history.
With the completion of the Montego Bay to Negril leg of the North Coast Highway, economic activities in the parish has seen a steady increase. The 2000 room Fiesta Group hotel and the development of Dolphin Cove are expected to fuel a high level of economic growth in the parish over the next few years.
Negril has grown over the last two decades to become one of Jamaica’s main tourism destinations (falling only behind Montego Bay and Ocho Rios). It boasts several small and large hotels, and is well represented by the two giants in the Jamaican Tourism Industry - Sandals and Super Clubs. The opening of the two Riu Hotels has also enhanced the tourism product in the parish. The standard bearers in EP hotels Round Hill and The Tryall Club continues their high levels of performance.