Gun Hill Signal Station was built in 1818. Two years after Barbados’ only slave revolt and it was the finest of a chain of stations used to signal the approach of enemy ships and the safe arrival of cargo ships and to help in the internal security of the island.
The station is strategically placed on the highland of St. George and commands a magnificent view from East through South to the West – a perfect location! This signal station was restored by the Trust in 1982 and opened to the public. The rooms at the back of the signal tower are filled with an interesting collection of memorabilia from the military.
Gun hill is one of a series of six signal stations which were built and used as rallying points in the event of civil disorder and also for non-military purposes.
Interesting functions of Gun Hill Signal Station:
Conveying of information about meeting of the Council of Barbados. This was executed by the appropriate combination of flags on a Signal Staf at Government House and repeated almost immediately at the other signal stations.
- Time telling – this was done by given special signals (time balls) hoisted at all signal stations
- Hurricane warnings – As soon as there was a drop in barometer pressure, warnings were listed at signal stations. Of interest to note is the fact that when the British Military was withdrawn from the islands in the Caribbean, the British stopped subscription to the maintenance of the signal stations. The Barbados Government then fully maintained the signal stations which then came under the control of the Inspector General of the Police. The introduction of the telephone saw the discontinuation of the signal stations as a means of passing messages.
The structure of the Signal Towers varied from tower to tower.
Gun Hill is hexagonal and indicates that it was rebuilt. There were other minor variations. The stations were built to accommodate two single men. The slits in the walls then enabled the signal man to communicate quickly with their sister stations.