Nelson's Dockyard - UNESCO World Heritage Site in Antigua and Barbuda

The fortification was built in the 18th Century by slaves to protect their masters and their sugarcane plantations.


Antigua and Barbuda is a twin country in America located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country consists of two inhabited islands including Antigua and Barbuda Islands and other tiny islands like Island of Redonda, Great Bird, Long, Green, and Guinea Island. The capital city, St John’s, is located on the Antigua Island. There are about 82,000 inhabitants in the Twin Islands of Antigua and Barbuda. The Islands are surrounded by so many beaches and hence the name “Land of 365 Beaches.” Tourism dominates the economy accounting for more than 50% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The islands are famous for the various luxury resorts and hotels. Financial services, investment banking, manufacturing, and agriculture are also some of the economic accelerators in Antigua and Barbuda.

Nelson’s Dockyard

As a tourist destination, Antigua and Barbuda are not only known for the many beaches and luxury hotels but also Nelson’s Dockyard. It is a cultural site found in the English Harbor of Antigua and forms part of the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. The site was named after Admiral Horatio Nelson who lived in a Dockyard on the Island of Antigua between 1784 and 1787. Currently, Nelson’s Dockyard hosts some of Antigua’s events like sailing and yachting, there are also meetings such as Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting and Antigua Sailing week.

History Of Nelson’s Dockyard

English Harbor played a major role in the founding of a naval base in Antigua. The position of the harbor in the south made it strategic to monitor the French Island of Guadeloupe. The year 1740 marked the beginning of the construction of modern Naval Dockyard by the slave workers. By 1745 a wooden storehouse had been built and reclamation of the land for more construction space had begun. By 1765, some quarters had been built for the commander-in-chief and additional kitchen and storehouses erected. Much of the present buildings on the Dockyard were built between 1785 and 1794. The building project for the Dockyard coincided with the reign of Nelson in the Dockyard between 1784 and 1787 when much of the work was accomplished. The completion of the Dockyard was in 1855 with the building of the Naval officer’s and Clerk’s House, the current Dockyard Museum. In 1889 the Dockyard was abandoned by the Royal Navy, and it almost fell into decay.

Current Status Of Nelson’s Dockyard

In 1951 the Society of the Friends of English Harbor began the reconstruction of the building. However, in 1951 the Society of the Friends of English Harbor launched its recovery opening it to the public in 1965. The Dockyard currently has two hotels, craft and food shop, a museum, marina, and restaurant. The site also has a collection of restored Georgian Period. The history of the Nelson’s Dockyard is inscribed in the National Archives in Kew, UK. The area is protected by the National Park Act, 1984. The site is in an area covering 255 ha. Nelson’s Dockyard was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016.

There is no other site in the Caribbean that can compare to Nelson’s Dockyard. Most sites, especially in Europe are used by the Navy, and their structures are being replaced by the modern building. With time, these Dockyards will have lost their original identity.

Nelson's Dockyard - UNESCO World Heritage Site in Antigua and Barbuda

Nelson's DockyardUNESCO World Heritage Site in Antigua and Barbuda
Year of Inscription2016
Criteria IIExhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design.
Criteria IVIs an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
LocationEnglish Harbour
Site Area255 hectares
Highlights18th Century Dockyard, Walled Perimeter, and Related Archaeological Sites


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