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Bermuda sites given historic status

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Somerset Drawbridge is recorded in the Guinness World Records as the world’s smallest drawbridge. The bridge is mentioned in historical records as far back as 1620, but has been rebuilt in modern times as the simplest form of a drawbridge. A 32-inch plank of wood through the centre of the bridge can be opened by hand to allow the passage of a sailboat’s mast. (Photo by David Skinner)

Somerset Bridge, the world’s smallest drawbridge, has been officially designated as an Historic Monument while Southlands, located in a 27-acre parkland area in Warwick is now a Grade Two Listed Building.

The move follows a public consultation that ended on December 31, which resulted in no objections, and with all submissions to the Ministry of Home Affairs supporting the proposed Listings.

This brings the total number of Listed Buildings in Bermuda to 779. Along with the Tucker’s Town Cemetery and eight buildings in the City of Hamilton, some 11 Listed Buildings have been added to the list of architecturally and/or historically significant buildings in Bermuda in the past two years.

Somerset Bridge is officially now a Grade HM, which refers to buildings which are of a level of historic significance and structural interest that makes them of historic importance. Such buildings are considered to be integral to Bermuda’s history and to its cultural tourism, and so alterations are avoided and restoration is undertaken on a like-for-like basis.

Grade two refers to buildings, structures or groups of buildings that are of such special interest and architectural or historical value that alterations and additions should be limited to works that do not impinge on those parts of the building that are protected and preserved. Such works should normally be carried out in the structural and decorative style of the existing buildings.

Minister of Home Affairs Sen Michael Fahy said: “Somerset Bridge is an iconic structure in Bermuda and is known internationally as the smallest drawbridge in the world.

“It is emblematically Bermudian and appears on the back of the new Bermudian $5 note. By listing it as a Grade HM or Historic Monument Listed Building, it ensures the protection of the structure for years to come.

“Likewise, I felt that the many examples of traditional Bermudian architecture seen at Southlands were worth preserving for future generations — both visitors and residents alike.”

The minister extended his appreciation to the Department of Parks for nominating Southlands for the designation, and the Sandys Parish Council for nominating Somerset Bridge.

Southlands park: this 37-acre parkland area located in Warwick parish is the largest single estate now remaining in Bermuda, and the architecture on the property represents many styles of the Bermuda vernacular. The estate has garden pools, woodland areas and limestone quarry gardens (Photo by David Skinner)