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Antigua

Uncommon Attraction: HMS Tartar Bell atop Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua

Uncommon Attraction: HMS Tartar Bell atop Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua

In a place so thoroughly drenched in history as Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, it’s sometimes easy to miss some of the smaller, more uncommon curiosities. Take this bell, for instance…

You’ll find it hanging proudly above the main gate entrance to the dockyard, its inscription fairly easy to make out when viewing at just the right angle.

H.M.S. Tartar.

Immediately upon seeing it questions starting springing up in my mind.

What was the H.M.S. Tartar? What was the ship’s significance to this historic place? Why would its bell be deemed worthy of such an honored place within the dockyard?

I was too pressed for time to get answers at the time, though later, while relaxing comfortably back at Sugar Ridge, I learned that the H.M.S. Tartar was the name of a ship that took an earlier bell from Nelson’s Dockyard when it shut down in 1889. Some 40+ years later, as work began on restoring the dockyard into the historic attraction and working shipyard that it is today, another H.M.S. Tartar gifted the bell back to the dockyard.

I really like the symbolism of the story; the return of the bell closing the loop on the darkest period of the facility’s history, while also providing a nice link to the past.

As you’re walking in through the main entrance at Nelson’s Dockyard, be sure to look up so you don’t miss this small, yet significant slice of history…

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