Life-size photo of National Hero the Rt. Excellent Sir C. A.Paul Southwell mounted

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (CUOPM) – Another fitting tribute to the Right Excellent Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell, the architect of tourism and golfing in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

A life-sized photograph of the late National Hero was unveiled in his memory on Tuesday night and mounted at the entrance of the Royal St. Kitts Club at Frigate Bay.


In delivering welcoming remarks at the unveiling ceremony, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Sen. the Hon. Richard "Ricky" Skerritt, said the event is to remember the life and works of the Right Excellent, Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell, Chief Minister, Premier and National hero, "to show our respect for his enormous vision and pioneering role in the development of the 40 year old Frigate Bay Development Corporation, and the 36 year old Royal St. Kitts Golf Course and Golf Club."

He stated: "Born in Dominica on 18th July 1913, Paul (as he was affectionately known) was to become Premier of St. Kitts and Nevis in 1978.

In so doing he had followed the route of most West Indian politicians of that period. After being employed in the sugar industry in 1944, he was recruited into the Labour movement and for the next ten years he was an organiser for the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union, becoming Vice-President in 1947. Paul was first elected to the legislature in 1952 and then elected to the Executive Council in 1955.

With the introduction of the Ministerial system of Government, he became the first Minister of Communications and Works and was later appointed Chief Minister in 1960. Paul held the post of Chief Minister until 1966 when Robert Bradshaw returned to the head his government a couple of years after his return from regional service with the Federal Government based in Trinidad. Paul then served as Deputy Premier to Mr. Bradshaw following the achievement of Associated Status in 1967, and was always a loyal deputy with the proven ability to lead effectively in his own right.

It was during Paul’s leadership as Chief Minister in 1964, that his Government acquired the lands of Frigate Bay from the Wigley family.

My research has revealed that Paul Southwell had actually set out to acquire the full Wigley estate, which included Friars Bay, but that Captain Jack Wigley had begged him not to take Friar’s Bay and instead struck a deal with him, after many months of negotiations, which included offering the Government a significantly reduced price of $519,000 for the 850 acres Frigate Bay portion of the estate. In return the Government allowed Wigley to keep Friars Bay with a promise from him that he would develop those lands himself.

At that time of the acquisition, Frigate Bay was a privately owned estate which was, by and large, unproductive commercially and without any physical infrastructure. The southern salt pond was used for small-scale salt production, the fields and hillsides for livestock grazing by a few squatters, and the Caribbean beach was used for local recreation on a private permit basis only. Those persons who made the necessary access arrangements, and could afford to pay the toll, were allowed to enter the main gate of the estate that was located in the vicinity of what is now known as the ‘Sugars Complex.’ Paul Southwell knew that whatever became of his big-thinking economic development plans for the future development of Frigate Bay, at the very least, he would have created much needed public access to the best reachable beach at the time, South Frigate Bay.

The nature of our political culture meant that leading up to and during the general election of 1970 Bradshaw and Southwell found themselves on the receiving end of numerous vicious attacks from the political opposition with regards to the Frigate Bay lands acquisition. They were accused of "….being corrupt and wasting Government money" and of "….being communists for taking away private land." The Government’s stated vision for the futuristic and integrated tourism development of the area was ridiculed as "….a pie in the sky project" and "… election gimmick."

After their party’s resounding re-election in 1970, and following the preparation of a master plan for the development of the Frigate Bay lands in 1971, the Government of Bradshaw and Southwell established the Frigate Bay Development Corporation by an act of the National Legislature in 1972; setting it up as a statutory corporate body, solely owned by the Government. The previously acquired Frigate Bay estate lands were vested by that legislation into the ownership and care of the Frigate Bay Development Corporation (quote)"….for the purpose of undertaking and encouraging the development of Frigate Bay" (unquote).

In the original Frigate Bay Development Plan, the land was categorized and allocated for five different types of use, based on site capability analysis and other factors. This eventually resulted in the following distribution of proposed land uses:

Residential Land – 220 acres

Commercial Land – 285 acres

Roads and Service areas – 30 acres

Public Recreational and Green areas – 135 acres

Golf Course – 180 acres.

Some of you might be aware that early in my first term as a Government Minister, I was able to get the approval of the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and my Cabinet colleagues to re-allocate the use of 18 acres of land, including the southern pond and the lands adjoining it, away from its previous commercial land designation into use for a public park purpose. Even without fully developing those lands as a park, that area today has become very useful for the recreation of locals and visitors alike, and is maintained at public expense by the Frigate Bay Development Corporation.


As Minister of Development, Paul Southwell personally co-ordinated the planning process for Frigate Bay, and ensured he won Cabinet approval for the master plan. He then piloted the Act through parliament that set up the Frigate Bay Development Corporation. I can imagine what a proud man he must have been, standing alongside Premier Bradshaw when the soil was first turned at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the Royal St. Kitts Hotel and Golf Course in 1974, ten long years after the government had acquired the Frigate Bay lands.

Paul Southwell and his colleagues must have been even more proud when, two years later in May 1976, there emerged the inaugural hotel in Frigate Bay, the Royal St. Kitts Hotel and Golf Club, the trend-setter for future tourism development in our country.

The following extracts are from an article written shortly after the opening of the hotel by a British journalist who had attended the opening:

I quote: "…… Within weeks of its opening, the Royal St. Kitts had given evidence of the future of Frigate Bay and St. Kitts on the international scene by hosting a number of meetings and conferences – a gathering of the Heads of State of the Caribbean common market countries, the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank with representatives from some 14 countries and observers from such powers as the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, Japan, United Nations and the World Bank, and an international bridge tourney."

"To create the Royal St. Kitts golf course as a green oasis, the Anglo-American architects called for rearrangement of about 500,000 cubic yards of earth and excavation of six major lakes which are interconnected and form part of the hazards of the course. Linked to two natural ponds and two sea outlets, they also form part of the Frigate Bay drainage plan with a pumping system providing a continual flow of sea water through the lakes."

"In addition to providing recreation for residents and visitors, it is anticipated that the golf course in the future will become the sight for major international tournaments. With a par 72, the course length can be 7100, 6615, 6125 or 5300 yards, depending on which tees are used….." end of quote."

As a keen golfer himself, Premier Southwell would have been pleased to see the number of regional and international golf tournaments that have graced our golf course and club since his death.

The conceptual vision and the complete story of the development of Frigate Bay, and the Royal St. Kitts Hotel and Golf Club, cannot be told in the short time available at this ceremony. And to relate some of the political hostility that it engendered would be inappropriate for this audience. But the acquisition seems even more impressive to me when I reflect on the fact that the negotiation for what Paul’s political critics described as "waste-land", began some 50 years ago, a time when most local people had never even visited the Frigate Bay area, did not even know that the game of golf existed, and could never have imagined that all of this development that we see around us in Frigate Bay today was actually possible. Southwell’s sense of vision was clearly extraordinary, and his ability to pull together the best thinking minds to advise him was exemplary.

But there was another very special aspect of Paul Southwell’s vision that has always inspired me. It was his insistence that ordinary local people not be shut out from the opportunity to learn and enjoy golf at the Frigate Bay course. That is why it was decided that the President of the Golf club should be appointed by the Frigate Bay Development Corporation, so that the club could always be connected to the Corporation, and that local people would never be alienated from the Golf club. Even though the Government-owned hotel and Golf course were both initially leased to a foreign private commercial operator, Southwell also insisted that all resident golfers below the age of 19 years should play free of green fees, a policy that our Government still maintains through the auspices of the Frigate Bay Development Corporation and Marriott Golf.

After ushering in the successful start-up of the Royal St. Kitts Golf Course and Club, Paul took a few starter lessons himself from the then newly arrived resident Golf pro, Malcolm Callendar, and quickly became a golf addict like so many of us are today. It was therefore not unusual for him to be seen having an outing on the course on the week-end, or relaxing at the 19th hole bar during a brief late afternoon visit from the office. Having been up close to the rigours and potential stresses of Government for some time now, I can certainly understand why Paul Southwell would have felt the need to escape to the relaxing environment of a golf course from time to time, especially a design with such long but forgiving fairways, and one which connected the golfer so well with nature.

The most recent architect, Thomas McBroom, who improved on the 1976 Peter Thompson design of the golf course nearly thirty years later, remarked at how impressive the original design was, and what a wonderful foundation had been laid for operating local golf at world class standards. The credit for that initial adherence to the very best quality for designing and building our golf course must go to the leadership and vision of Paul Southwell, his Cabinet colleagues, and his architectural and economic planning advisors. Paul would have been even more proud to see the outstanding turf maintenance that has been sustained on this golf course that he loved so much, and I believe he would be quite impressed at how much of his vision for the Frigate Bay area has been continued by successive Governments.

At age 66, Paul passed to the great beyond in May 1979, exactly three years after the opening of the Royal St. Kitts Golf course and the launch of the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. Fortunately, by the time of his death, he had also seen some other construction emerging, although only a handful of residential homes and one restaurant had been completed.

Three years is usually too short a period to master the skills of golf, especially for a man who took up golf so late in life.

Understandably, therefore Paul was known to be quite a hacker and, with his famous sense of humour, was the first local player to describe his own golf round as "touristic", especially after his ball had intimately explored remote areas of the course, and his clubs had engaged with far too many of the water hazards and bunkers in the same round.

It has therefore been with a deep sense of pride and responsibility that I have helped to keep the flame of Golf tourism burning in St. Kitts on Paul’s behalf, on behalf of his successors, on behalf of Prime Minister Douglas and his Government and the Frigate Bay Development Corporation, and on behalf of the people of our beloved country.

I thank Marriott Golf for agreeing to my request to mount this fitting photograph in Paul’s memory at the entrance of this Club house, and I thank Paul’s son Rustum and his wife Gracie for supplying it all the way from Halifax. I also thank all those in our Ministry of Tourism & International Transport, the Frigate Bay Development Corporation, the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club, and Marriott, who have worked together over the past few days to make this simple but powerful ceremony possible.

And finally, I thank you all for joining together this evening to honour a humble but visionary man named Paul, who achieved extra-ordinary steps forward for his people by having afar-sighted vision for his country.

May the soul of our National Hero, The Rt. Excellent Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell, continue to rest in eternal peace, and may our citizens and Golf Club members always be mindful and thankful for his pioneering role in the development of Frigate Bay, The Royal St. Kitts Golf Course, and all of the various economic, social, and environmental benefits which have flowed from his vision since."

Photo 1 – Mounted photo of National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell at the Frigate Bay Golf Club.

Photo 2 – Minister of Tourism and International Trade Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerritt flanked by photos of National hero Sir Caleb and Lady Gladys Southwell.

Photo 3 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas (right) and Mr. Rustum Southwell

Photo 4 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas (left) and Ms. Lorenza Southwell.

Photo 5 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, Minister of Tourism, Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerritt; Minister of Health, Hon. Marcella Liburd; Pastor Cyprian Williams (left to right front row) and right second row is Parliamentary Representative and Minister of Utilities, the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin.

Photo 6 – (left to right) – Lorenza Southwell; Gracie Southwell, wife of Rustum Southwell; Clytie Southwell and Vesta Southwell.

(Photos & Story by Erasmus Williams)