Map of Castries
Market and Vendors Arcade
Derek Walcott Square
George V Park
A Brief History of the City of Castries.
Learn about the Castries fires
This is a picture of Castries after the 1948 fire
The earliest people who came to Castries over 2,000 years ago, found
a bay enclosed by hills and fringed with mangrove from the Marina all around
to Bananes Bay. The bay was rich in fish, conch and other seafood. Sans
Soucis provided clams and birds, while ample fresh water was obtainable from
the Castries River and from the La Pansée and Morne Dudon streams.
The first Europeans, adventurers, freebooters,
pirates, found the bay a safe refuge. The French found the bay convenient
for anchoring and mending their ships, naming their first base, in the area
of the present day yacht haul-out. La Carenage (a place for careening and
repairing ships). This facility gave Castries its motto:
“Statio Haud Malefida Carinis” — A Safe
Harbour for Ships.
Transportation of the 1950's and 1960's
Between 1765 and 1768 a new town was built by
the Baron de Micoud on the riverside site and called Ville du Carenage. In
1785 this town was named Castries after the Marquis de Castries, Marechal de
France. The old town site continued to be called the Vieille Ville. In 1793
General Ricard, recognizing St. Lucia’s adherence to
the principles of the French Revolution, changed the names of all towns and
villages in St. Lucia, Castries was called Ville de la Felicite - (Town of
Happiness); this was ratified by Robespierre in 1794.
However, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, ended the
happiness when he led part of a conquering British force in 1794; he renamed
the town Charlottesville after his mother, Queen Charlotte of England. Some
time after the Napoleonic Wars the town reverted to the original royalist
name of Castries.
Central Library before the expansion
The fortunes of Castries have always been, and
still are, influenced by the port activities. The port served the legitimate
business of the north-west region from Cul-de-Sac to Gros Islet (ignoring
the contraband shipped through Gros Islet) As the main dock for
agricultural products, warehouses were located in the area of Queen’s Lane.
(The walls of the Carasco and Minvielle and Chastanet warehouses near Queen’s
Lane still show the masonry work of the old sector).
Castries has been
involved in ship repairing and commercial warehouse storage, and as a coaling port
for nearly 100 years.
It also served as the British Military Headquarters
for the Southern Caribbean (1888-1906), a communications centre (part of the
trans-Atlantic cable system, and dockyard for the cable ships) and as a sugar
Port Castries in the 1960's
The present town grew up along the Castries
River, and the Chaussee, a dirt road raised above the level of the
Much of the town, from Micoud Street to the
docks, was under water. Jeremie Street was initially called Rue des Mangles
(Street along the Mangroves). The market place was near the waterfront.
Land was reclaimed by people being offered an
area of water which became their land after they had filled it. A chained
gang of slaves also worked on the reclamation.
Castries bay is now much smaller than before.
Harbour development since 1970 has filled the entire waterfront from Bananes
to the Marina, except the northern wharf.
Castries was spared the general destruction
during the French Revolution. However, after a mauling of British troops at
Vigie by French Republican troops (mainly freed slave soldiers) in April
1796, General Abercrombie's son leveled the town with incendiary bombs and
Destructive fires in 1813, 1927 and 1948 each leveled most of
the town again. There was also severe hurricane damage in 1817, 1831 and
The original Garbage truck
The military invasions and presence did not only mean
destruction. The largest single building boom took place under the British
between 1888 and 1906.
Five million pounds were spend constructing
all the brick buildings for garrisoning the troops on the Morne, at La Toc
and at Vigie, still standing today and now housing Sir Arthur Lewis
Community College, the police training school, the School of Music, and St.
The fortifications and gun emplacements still
stand after 100 years; together with the latest technology in wireless they
defended the port of Castries from invasion. A new Victoria Hospital was
completed to replace the Colonial Hospital which had been destroyed by fire.
The market was moved to Jeremie Street, and Columbus Square was established
in its place. Father Tapon erected the new Cathedral and St. Mary’s College.