Tyrol Cot Heritage Village
Tyrol Cot celebrates the unique architectural design of freed slaves.
Bajans went ahead and built thousands of the structures anyway
in the 1800s and early 1900s, creating one of the Caribbean's
most distinctive folk architecture designs.
They sprang up out of necessity after Emancipation. Former slaves were allowed to rent land and build houses on plantations, but they could be evicted on short notice.
So their homes had to be chattel, "moveable possessions," that could be taken down quickly, placed in an oxcart and reassembled. All in one day. These were truly mobile homes.
Their size tended to be similar, determined by the materials that could be imported. In this case, precut, cheap pine of 12- to 20-foot lengths (only in even sizes) shipped in from North America.
Chattel houses all looked amazingly alike, too, normally with a door in the center and a window flanking each side of it.
A chattel house often began as a single unit under one v-shaped roof. Whenever family circumstances dictated or income allowed, it was expanded sequentially to the rear or side, depending on property boundaries, one roof at a time.
Eventually, porches or verandas might be added and perhaps even a stone foundation if land could be purchased.
The zenith of chattel house design occurred in the 1920s and early 1930s. Many of the most elegant ones still remaining come from that period. But there are far fewer every year as modern homes replace them.
Bajan chattel houses are considered models of Georgian symmetry and
harmony. In the past, every traveler to Barbados undoubtedly has stopped
to photograph one or more of the brilliantly painted buildings.
Why would anyone want to live in the past if they can enjoy modern conveniences.
Ironically, the Tyrol Cot attractHeritage Village has become more timely to preserve a part of Bajan heritage than probably was imagined when the heritage village was founded on the grounds of a famous 1800's estate--also part of the attraction.