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Insuring Bermuda and its Millennia

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One day, in the distant year of 2612, Bermuda will celebrate its first millennium, for in this present year of 2013, it is but four centuries and nine months into that first 1,000 years. Such a year six hundred years hence has the ring of science fiction, of sipping tea in flying saucers with the likes of the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Perhaps Bermuda will have been abandoned as an unsustainable archipelago for humans and returned to its pre-1505 discovery date as a good home for cahows, longtails, cedars and skinks. How much of our heritage will survive the onslaught of time we shall certainly never know, but one would like to think that the wonderful architectural legacy of the old Royal Naval Dockyard, anchored to the north by Commissioner’s House and to the south by Casemate Barracks will yet stand proud, a monument to the use of Bermuda limestone and the work of local and foreign masons.

We already have an entity created and partly named for the last thousand-year turning point, the year 2000, in the form of an insurance company, Tokio Millennium Re, which lately has been helping to ensure that the “Casemates” will be around at the next two millennia, being that of the Bermuda founding date of 1612 and the following based upon the birth of Christ, being the year 3000. Instead of handing out a policy and accepting some premiums, Tokio recently embarked on course of volunteering to insure that Casemates and other local projects would have an extended life.

Tats Hoshina, CEO of Tokio Millennium Re stated: “This was Tokio’s first global “Day of Giving” and it was wonderful to be able to work with three deserving charities on the island—The Reading Clinic, WindReach and the National Museum. Our offices in Zurich, Australia and London were also taking part in charitable activities, so it was incredibly rewarding to be able simultaneously to give back to the communities we work and live in around the world.”

A Bermudian, Zoë Kempe, was the lead organiser of the Tokio Day of Giving, especially for Casemates and she noted: “We really enjoyed being able to involve the whole company in this ‘give-back’ event, which also provided us with the perfect opportunity for some company team building!

“We plan to make the Tokio Day of Giving an annual event and have enjoyed collaborating with the three worthy charities. We already had a solid official relationship with them, but I think everyone from the company enjoyed the practical experience to be able to get out and get our hands dirty, literally, and to advance their work further.”

Since, for a 30-year period from 1963, Casemates was the local maximum-security facility, the Tokio Team spent the day ‘in jail’, but were largely engaged in ‘breaking-out’ activities that former inmates would perhaps have appreciated, had the demolished walls somehow led to freedom.

All 30 members of staff wielded jackhammers, picks, shovels, sledgehammers and other weapons of destruction, since the museum supervisors do not discriminate in handing out work orders to willing volunteers.

It is amazing how much work can be accomplished by those so willing to abandon their keyboards for more primitive but effective means of carrying out a policy of ensuring the pre-restoration of Casemates.

Some paid a heavy premium, in terms of blisters and sore muscles, but all in all, the Tokio Team seemed delighted with their day of underwriting some solid work for the National Museum in its efforts to restore and reuse the Casemate Barracks.

The site of the Casemates was originally that of the first fort of the Bermuda Dockyard, probably erected by 1815. Backed by archaeological evidence discovered several years ago, it appears that in the early days of the Dockyard (started in 1809), a ditch was cut right across Ireland Island, on the line of the later Barracks, and in its centre stood a fort, the crenellations of which were recorded in a drawing of 1828. Such an arrangement for the defence of the Dockyard against an American attack from the mainland of Sandys Parish must have been an affront to a later officer of the Royal Engineers, for the entire ditch and associated fortifications were swept away in the early 1830s.

Those works were replaced others approved by the Duke of Wellington, when Master General of the Ordnance, and eventually included the Land Front ramparts that today lie to the southwest of the Casemate Barracks, their massive walls and three outwork forts meant to form an impenetrable barrier to an advancing army of impertinent foreigners. The soldiers of the Royal Marines Light Infantry were housed in the magnificent new barracks of the early 1840s, which yet stands today, despite the ravages of time and the wounds of being converted to a prison in 1963.

In 2009, as a result of work by volunteers like those from Tokio Millennium Re, it was suggested that the Casemate Barracks, its two adjacent ordnance buildings and fortifications, be joined with the Bermuda Maritime Museum, which has occupied the ‘Keep’, or great fort, of the Bermuda Dockyard since 1975, thus bringing under one preservation umbrella all of the fortifications of the Dockyard. A bridge to connect the two areas was built and donated by Correia Construction, and, given its increased size, the Bermuda Government was agreeable that the institution change its name to the National Museum of Bermuda.

In a short period on Bermuda, Tokio Millennium Re has built a company with a deep commitment to underwriting discipline and scientific analysis of risk, allied with a strong balance sheet and close relationships with their clients, including, as it were, a number of charities. In a somewhat longer period, the National Museum, its donors, trustees, staff and volunteers, have built an institution that is wedded to the preservation of heritage in Bermuda, especially in the Dockyard area in which it exists.

The Casemate Barracks started as a simple project to clean the place up and suggest to Government what should be preserved as significant heritage to Bermuda: it has evolved into a policy to create a 16-acre museum, the like of which all of the Island can be proud and the like of which will have few parallels in this hemisphere. The help rendered by Tokio Millennium Re, and other such companies, does much to ensure that that vision created in the first decade of the present new millennium will become an insurable reality, not only for Bermudians, but also for our esteemed visitors and vital tourism economy.

Edward Cecil Harris, MBE, JP, PHD, FSA is Director of the National Museum at Dockyard. Comments may be made to director@bmm.bm or 704-5480.

As painted in 1847, ‘Redcoats’ parade in front of the completed Casemate Barracks, the Ordnance Building to the right and the Northwest Rampart are still under construction (Fay and Geoffrey Elliott Collection, Bermuda Archives).
The Tokio Millennium Re ‘Global Day of Giving’ team pose atop a mountain of rubble at Casemate Barracks: they not only made it, but climbed it!
Pictured (from left) are Tokio staffers Jason Williams, Sara Perdichizzi, Andrew Nesbitt and Anthi Xipolia appear to be enjoying their day on demolition duty at Casemates.
Pictured (from closest to furthest) are Tokio volunteers Derrick Simons, Alex Richards, Bennet Gibson and Andrew Johnson, removing a 1960s partition wall in one of the Casemates barracks rooms.
Tokio coordinator Zoë Kempe unblocks one of the long-lost fireplaces in the officer’s section of the Casemate Barracks: this is the first discovery of such a feature.

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Published April 27, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm)

Insuring Bermuda and its Millennia

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