Last commander at HMS Malabar critical of property’s neglect
The last Commanding Officer of HMS Malabar has labelled the deterioration of the historic west end building “a crying shame”.
In the 16 years since Government took over the building from the Royal Navy, Commander Robin Bawtree said the building has been wasted and ignored, gradually falling into a state of disrepair.
“This is a crying shame and shows a total abdication of responsibility on the part of Wedco,” he said. “The Malabar buildings, the Fleet Club and Skittle Alley continue to rot and are frequently damaged further by tropical and winter storms.
“Surely some use can be made of these buildings which the Royal Navy proudly kept in pristine condition for many years?”
As of press time last night, Wedco has not commented on the matter. HMS Malabar, a supply base, closed on April 1, 1995, marking the end of the Royal Navy’s 200-year residence in Bermuda. Prior to taking over the property, Wedco said it planned to turn The Cottage, the former home of the Commanding Officer, into a guest villa, with a sports/spa facility and commercial offices suggested for the other buildings.
Wedco said at that time that it would make no “rash decisions,” but hoped development could occur quickly because of the good shape of the buildings.
In a letter sent to
The Royal Gazette, Cdr Bawtree said that while The Cottage has been utilised to some extent, as a residence for the Governor while Government House was being refurbished and more recently as a halfway house, other historical buildings at the site have been left to rot.
“The Skittle Alley on an island off The Cottage was one of the first in the western world and I would imagine is now full of sand and cockroaches,” he said.
“However, it is of historic interest as it has or had many signatures on its walls of well known public figures including members of the Royal Family, politicians and senior naval officers.
“Even if the rest of Malabar is allowed to continue to rot could not the Skittle Alley be taken over by the National Trust of Bermuda or The Maritime Museum and restored to its former glory?”
“Those of us who served there most recently feel that it is criminal to allow Malabar to deteriorate in this way and we do hope that it can be restored soon and put to good use,” he said.