New River and Coconut Walk Estates
The remnants of these two estates, located on the island's east coast, slope out to the sea overlooking Montserrat and Redonda. They can easily be visited together and are about a 25-minute drive from Charlestown, or eight minutes past Golden Rock Plantation Inn.
Just off the main road are the ruins of New River, which can be recognized by its tall tower and squat building that houses an old steam engine. Originally powered by animal mill, the sugar plantation was eventually converted to steam, which remained in operation until 1958-the last one in operation on the island.
Walking through the estate, which was originally 582 acres, the ruins of the old Great House can be seen on the left, as well as the cistern.
Continuing down towards the sea from New River, you can follow the goat trail to Coconut Walk, which was named for the luxuriant coconut trees that once lined its borders. It was once densely cultivated with sugarcane, but like other Estates, it owners had to change its crop due to the deterioration in sugar price and were later forced to sell the estate.
Significant pieces of pottery have revealed that this was an early Arawak Indian settlement. Among the ruins is the tallest windmill in Nevis and a stone lime kiln, where coral is fired to produce lime used in the local construction industry. It adds colour, luster, durability, and extra bonding to the finished plaster on concrete building. It is still used today.
Bath Hotel and Spring House
Built in 1778, the Bath Hotel was once a playground for the rich and famous who came to Nevis to take in the therapeutic, hot spring baths. Guests would come by ship from throughout the West Indies and Europe for this pleasurable experience.
John Huggins, a merchant and aristocrat built the large, stone hotel at a cost of 43,000 "island" pounds, and surrounded it with lush landscaping, statuary, and goldfish ponds. The hotel was 200 feet long and 60 feet wide.
Dignitaries such as Lord Nelson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Prince William Henry, who was the Duke of Clarence, visited the hotel in its heyday.
With the downturn of the sugar industry, Nevis stepped into the world of tourism with this hotel, which flourished for about 60 years. Since then the hotel has had various uses, reopening as a hotel from 1912 until 1940. It was used as training center for the West Indian regiment during World War II, and most recently, the temporary headquarters of the Nevis police while the new station was built.
Within the compound of the Bath Hotel is the Spring House, a two story masonry structure which was constructed from local hand cut stones. This building sits on the bank of the Bath Stream. The facility comprises of five thermal baths whose source of water springs from the base of the house. The spring water is reputed to contain minerals of medicinal value and is known to have cured chronic rheumatism and gout. Its water temperature ranges from 104F to 108F hence the reason why the Spring House was used significantly by visitors and locals alike.
Unfortunately, due to damages from recent hurricanes and other natural elements, the Spring House is closed. A restoration committee headed by Mr. Ken Evelyn recently constructed an open outdoor pool for persons wishing to experience the healing powers of the water. The design allows water to filter in through layers of crushed stones through the bottom of the pool and overflow gradually through an overflow pipe down into the stream. This design maintains the water at the required temperature.
Archaeological work is ongoing at this most interesting site. The ruin of the stone Great House constructed in the early 19th century originally was joined to an older wooden house built in the 18th century. Only the foundations of that earlier house remain, and in turn they lie atop the foundations of a 17th century house which is believed to have been burnt by the invading French army in 1706. The 17th century building was built by the Freeman family, the first owners of the estate. The 18th century structure was constructed by the Pinneys family, for whom Pinney’s Beach is named. The stone house was built by the Huggins family, who purchased the estate from Pinneys. At one point the Pinneys considered allowing poets and writers from England to reside on the estate as an early “artist’s colony”, but it never came to pass. The Great House was occupied up to the 1950’s. What makes this an exceptional site is that papers and correspondence of the Pinney family have survived in Bristol and give invaluable information about the buildings and life on the estate, which are being confirmed by archaeology. The estate was occupied and produced sugar for 300 years.
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