Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Grenada - "Morne Rouge Beach Club" or "BBC" ?

Grenada, oh so sweet Grenada
Just to imagine you is as laying with my love
Your warm and all embracing fragrant air
Does take my breath away, so truly sweet you are

Recently on holiday in Grenada I happened to overhear a fellow talking to tourists about the Island`s beautiful beaches. Yes, the 2 mile stretch of Grand Anse they were visiting was certainly a spectacular example of one, but, Grenada also had many other smaller but equally impressive sandy beaches nearby. Another for instance was to be found just a ten minute walk over the hill by The Flamboyant Hotel and down to the lovely arc of Morne Rouge Bay, known locally he added as BBC (pic 1973).

What really caught my ear and had me interested was his explanation and suggestion that this beach had possibly became known as BBC due to the fact that a local radio station had at one time started up broadcasting from that area.

I remembered that I had a scan back home of an old picture postcard showing a building clearly named "Morne Rouge Beach Club" (pic undated).
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Wilfred Redhead in his book "A City on a Hill" reveals that the Morne Rouge Beach Club was originally built and operated by the popular Grenada business man Dudley Slinger.

I can also recall that in 1973, my first visit to Grenada, my wife Theresa and I attended a Saturday night dance at a venue on that beach (pic 1973). The Club in question and partly visible below the balcony was at that time known as "Blanco`s".

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From enquiries made since returning home I am led to believe that someone by the name of Blanco did arrive from Aruba to run a Night Club on that beach at Morne Rouge. I`m not able to say if the building we visited that night is the same as the one pictured on the postcard, it certainly doesn`t look like it from that angle. However, it may be that the original structure was changed over the years and altered by additional building work. Regardless of what did happen in that respect, we can at least be sure that a change of name for that establishment did take place -- "Morne Rouge Beach Club" to one of "Blanco`s Beach Club". I`m wondering if this could be a more plausible reason and explanation as to why there is now general usage of the tag "BBC" when referring to Morne Rouge Beach?.

The radio station previously mentioned was in fact WIBS (Windward Islands Broadcasting Service) which evidently did start to broadcast from a studio at a Morne Rouge address in the mid 1950s. It was changed later to Radio Grenada.


George A Soltysik said...

"BBC" (Bob Blanco's Club) was opened on Morne Rouge Beach in the late 1960's by Bob Blanc a.k.a. Bob Blanco whose father - a building contractor - originally from Dominica may have made his money in Aruba as did many other Grenadians. There is no connection between "BBC" and the Morne Rouge Beach Club also known as Morne Rouge Aquatic Club or simply Aquatic Club which was located on Grand Anse Beach just about where the Umbrella's Restaurant and Bar is presently located. The Slinger family - under the care of Dudley Slinger during the late 1940s through to early 1960s - owned and operated several interests including the Aquatic Club, the Santa Maria Hotel (featured in the 1957 film "Island In The Sun", later known as the Islander Hotel) and the Grand Hotel on upper Lucas Street in the late 1940s through to the early 1960s. Dudley Slinger or "Uncle D" as he was known on a children's radio program produced by him and his companion Olive Moore at the West Indies Broadcasting Services (WIBS). He was a gifted musician and loved to play classical music on his baby grand piano every night, his favourite piece being Tchaikovsky's Concerto # 1. He resided for many years at the Grand Hotel and then lived out his final years as a resident of the Islander Hotel until his death in 1967.

Graham Johnstone said...

Hi George, thank you for being able to clearly relate those correct details regarding that BBC question. I am really pleased that you took the trouble to furnish me with the facts, now I am able to picture things correctly in my mind. You mention Umbrella`s, our last visit was 2012 so I suppose it was not yet open. The Coyoba had not been built either when we used the beach cottages at “The Riviera” in those early 70s. Since first posting my 1/7/08 blog I was always trying to discover more on this subject. During that time I at least did come up with a nice colour picture postcard showing Aquatic Club on Grand Anse. It included the following separate notes :-“Ruined structure seemed to have signposted - “THIS IS AFRICA” &
“Site had been demolished in 1978 when I was there).
Those ruins were there when we stayed at Riviera around that time also. The only other info of interest I could find is the mention of a “tender bid re Aquatic Club” a Government Gazette at University of Florida site http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00076858/00031/3j?n=dloc
Thanks again for your help. Best wishes from London --Graham Johnstone

George A Soltysik said...

Hi Graham, 2 years later and I just saw your reply to me. How's that for a delayed response in this present day techno world?
I'm so glad you took an interest in the Morne Rouge aspect of Grenada. I never understood why the Aquatic Club was named Morne Rouge Aquatic Club...because it clearly was on Grand Anse Beach and not on Morne Rouge Beach. The West Indian Broadcasting Station (WIBS) was situated on the hillside heading towards Morne Rouge Beach, but again, it was on that side of the hill facing Grand Anse! I recently started communicating with a fellow in Holland who passed through Grenada in 1967 with his regiment which had just concluded 2 years service in Dutch Guiana as Surinam was then known. He and his fellow soldiers spent enough time that one day in Grenada they managed to tour a bit and he took a photograph from the highest range, where Fort Frederick and Fort Matthew are situated, overlooking St George's harbour. The photo included the slightly lower range named Richmond Hill where my family home and my grandfather's clinic "SALUS" was located. This Dutchman, as a result of his ship's stopping at Trinidad, Grenada and Barbados en route to the Netherlands, developed an interest in Caribbean music and we now havet located a couple of the old band members of an orchestra and combo group called The Maestroes of Grenada" who have a couple of their songs on YouTube and are doing some research on the history of the band. Hope this gets to you sooner than your reply to me did. LOL
Happy New Year 2019!
George A Soltysik, Grenada expat in Milton, Ontario, Canada