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Location Map bluehill

Blue Hill

Not many have been there

I long for the countryside. That’s where I get my calm and tranquillity - from being able to come and find a spot of green.
Emilia Clarke

Blue Hill is the least densely populated area of St Helena, and is mostly undeveloped or agricultural land.

 

Blue Hill

Below: What happens in Blue Hill? • History • Wirebirds • Future • Blue Hill in pictures

Blue Hill has approximately 30% of the land area of St Helena, but just 4% of the population{2}. There are three settlements worthy of the title:

Apart from these and a few isolated cottages, Blue Hill is empty - of people at least. It has been suggested that the population of farm animals exceeds that of people by a wide margin!

Two geological structures dominate the area: High Peak, on the volcanic ridge between Blue Hill and Sandy Bay; and High Hill, an isolated formation in the north west that overlooks Blue Hill Village. The road from Jamestown towards Blue Hill goes along a ridge and on a clear day there are magnificent views to both sides of the island.

What happens in Blue Hill?

The grass grows and the animals eat it. Apart from that: nothing much. There is a Community Centre in Blue Hill Village which holds Dances a few times a year. People also go there for recreational ‘camping’ - not sleeping under canvass, but in the old school buildings adjacent to the Community Centre. True camping takes place at Thompson’s Wood. Beyond Head o’Wain is Horse Pasture, a picnic area (also favoured after dark by couples in cars).

The main TV transmitter, serving Blue Hill and Sandy Bay, is located at The Depot, a small hill on the volcanic ridge between these two districts, along which the road runs. There is a small shop in Blue Hill Village, a Baptist Chapel at Head o’Wain and an Anglican Church, ‘St. Helena & The Cross’, just next to The Depot. And most of the island’s donkeys live in fields alongside the main road at Casons. Apart from agriculture there is no local employment.

The electricity supply in Blue Hill is notoriously unreliable, largely because the area is at the end of a very long distribution chain. Amusingly, a public meeting at the Blue Hill Community Centre in January 2013, held to discuss the electricity supply, was disrupted by - a power cut!

Overlooking Blue Hill village is West Lodge, which is said to be haunted.

Welcome to Blue Hill

History

Blue Hill has never been an important place. Almost none of the island’s recorded history happened there - with only two exceptions:

There was no road west of Bates Branch until the Boer Prisoners were housed at Broad Bottom. Prior to that there was only a bridle path. The prisoners may have helped build the road.

St Helena, The Historic Island, From Its Discovery To The Present Date, by E. L. Jackson, published in 1905 mentions Blue Hill only once:

High Peak, Horse Pasture, Man and Horse, Blue Hill, and Thompson’s Wood are some of the best known places on the westward side.

Blue Hill Village used to have a school, but it closed in 1990{3}.

Prior to the arrival of motorised transport in the 1920s, and the opening of Prince Andrew School in 1984, people from Blue Hill could be identified by their dialect, which was peculiar to the district and would have developed due to its relative isolation. Today these differences are only perceptible in older people.

Blue Hill has always seen itself as a somewhat cut-off community, as is evidenced by this letter from local resident Stedson Francis to the St Helena News Review, published 29th April 1983:

Dear Editor,

I have always known Blue Hill as being a part of St Helena, but now it seems we are a district on our own because any funds approved for water, electricity, telephones or whatever doesn’t seem to include our Community.

We’ve heard so much about grants being available for new water mains, water treatment plants, a ¾ million gallon Reservoir in areas 3-5 miles out of town, but still no mention of the folks out West,

Electricity: About two years ago our hopes were raised when some 30 households - after being advised - filled in application forms for Electricity. Since that time all new applications have come to a halt…until a new power house arrives. Grapevine (more reliable than not) has it that even the ‘new power station’ whenever it does show up will not be powerful enough to supply outlying areas - not to mention Blue Hill. Only a few people out there they say, and think of the cost!!!??

Just recently ‘our’ new telephone system was commissioned and put into operation but once again Blue Hill was among those outlying areas who are yet to wait until £41,000 can be found for 4 miles of cable. This could have been one project where work could have started in the outlying areas bringing reliable communications to the more remote parts of the Island. Instead the densely populated areas are done first. The remote areas?? They don’t matter!

Although I agree Blue Hill is a small community - there is no Government Landlord housing and the percentage of Westerners on the housing list as compared with other districts is not worth mentioning; which would indicate that we do not wish to be fed a silver spoon although on the other hand would appreciate our share of the cake.

Let’s hope that Blue Hill will soon become a part of St Helena and enjoy those essential services of water, roads, electricity and a dial system like most other lucky Islanders.

The road to Blue Hill
The road to Blue Hill

Speery Island wasn’t discovered until October 1722, by a Captain Goodwin. Naming it ‘Spheree’, he thought its white colour was due to salt deposits (salt being much needed in 1722). It is actually caused by thick deposits of guano - the island is a seabird nesting site. That must have caused some disappointment!

Wirebirds

There are two major Wirebird sites in the district: Broad Bottom (the eco resort plans have been adapted round them) and at Man & Horse.

The Future

SHELCO’s ‘Wirebird Hills’

SHELCO Logo

In 2002 the developer SHELCO announced plans for a luxury eco resort to be built at Broad Bottom. SHELCO bought the land a short while later and obtained planning permission in 2012. Revised plans were filed in November 2015. At the time of writing construction has not begun and in 2018 SHELCO sold a majority shareholding to another company. If the resort is completed as planned the resort’s residents will almost double the population of Blue Hill, and the resort will generate many local jobs and one significant amenity: an eighteen-hole Golf Course.

Formal planning approval was announced on 16th February 2017; Phase 1 must be completed by 2020:

Wirebird Hills, Resort & Country Club will offer an eco-friendly tourism complex. The first phase will include an 18-hole eco golf course together with a boutique five star eco luxury hotel and country club offering 35 suites together with leisure facilities and a spa. This involves expanding the earlier proposed Golf Clubhouse to provide seven suites and the spa and a further seven hotel lodges, each with four suites. The current plan is to start on site as soon as finance is available on St Helena and there is proven regular air access. The development permission gives until 2020 at the very latest for this to happen.

Phase 2 will move forward as demand increases and phase 3 will include the Primary 70 Bedroom Hotel Complex and the remainder of the 165 Leisure Related Residences as well as a Lookout Interpretation Centre and Sebastapol Centre. The development will also include ancillary facilities such as staff accommodation and maintenance facilities - all built to equally high environmental standards.

The complex will place top priority on environmentally responsible design to make the development the ‘World’s Greenest Tourism Development’.{a}

In November 2018 SHELCO sold a majority shareholding to Saint Helena Corporation PLC, run by entrepreneur Paul Sullivan. It is assumed that Saint Helena Corporation intends to proceed with SHELCO’s plans, but whether any changes will be made is not known.

Blue Hill in pictures

High Hill
High Hill

The main road towards Jamestown
The main road towards Jamestown

Sandy Bay from The Depot
Sandy Bay from The Depot

High Peak
High Peak{b}

High Peak
High Peak{b}

From High Peak
From High Peak

Barren Ground from High Hill
Barren Ground from High Hill

Road towards High Peak
Road towards High Peak

High Hill, from the road
High Hill, from the road

Speery Island, from Botley’s Lay
Speery Island, from Botley’s Lay{c}

Speery Island from Swanley Cave
Speery Island from Swanley Cave

Black Rocks, near Speery Island
Black Rocks, near Speery Island

Broad Bottom
Broad Bottom

From the air
From the air

Sunset from Blue Hill Village
Sunset from Blue Hill Village

Sunset behind High Hill
Sunset behind High Hill

Donkeys at Casons
Donkeys at Casons

Wirebirds live in the district
Wirebirds live in the district{d}

Camping at Community Centre
Camping at Community Centre

St. Helena & The Cross church
St. Helena & The Cross church

Blue Hill Shop, exterior
Blue Hill Shop, exterior

Shop interior {1}
Shop interior{1}

Broad Bottom Boer camp, 1902
Broad Bottom Boer camp, 1902

 

Snow in Blue Hill? No, just clever photo editing!
Snow in Blue Hill? No, just clever photo editing!

JamestownHalf Tree HollowSt Paul’sLongwoodAlarm ForestBlue HillLevelwoodSandy Bay

Districts of St Helena

Alarm Forest • Blue Hill • Half Tree Hollow • Jamestown • Levelwood • Longwood • Sandy Bay • St Paul’s • Maps of St Helena

Laugh at funny Blue Hill humour - LOL

Credits:
{a} Government of St Helena, 16th February 2017{4}{b} Tourist Office{c} Andrew Turner{d} Andrew/Peter Neaum

Footnotes:
{1} This photograph was actually taken in 2002, but the only thing that has changed since is the prices have gone up!{2} 2016 Census: 158 from a total population of 4,534.{3} Blue Hill First School had only opened in September 1988, with 10 pupils of compulsory school age and 4 pre school children.{4} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.

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