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Blue Hill

Not many go 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.{f}

The least densely populated area of St Helena is mostly undeveloped or agricultural land‍‍

About Blue Hill

SEE ALSO: For the other districts of St Helena see the map (below) or our page Districts of St Helena.

Blue Hill has approximately 30% of the land area of St Helena, but just 4% of the population{2}. There are four 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 (mostly cattle & sheep) 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 Thompsons Wood. Beyond Head o’Wain is Horse Pasture, a picnic area (also favoured after dark by couples in cars). And the frogs croak at night…(right).

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 erratic electricity supply, was disrupted by - a power cut!

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

A lot of people come to Blue Hill in the evening to admire the sun setting over the sea to the west of the island.


Blue Hill is one of the original five districts, created soon after the Crown took over St Helena from The East India Company in 1834.

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 PoWs 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 Thompsons 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.

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 (though Guano itself was useful as fertilizer and was actively collected until recent times.)


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’


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’.{h}

Trade Winds Ocean Village

In November 2018 SHELCO sold a majority shareholding to Saint Helena Corporation PLC, run by entrepreneur Paul O’Sullivan. He renamed the project ‘Trade Winds Ocean Village’. Planning permission was extended for five years in April 2020. It was understood that the owner was demanding the creation of a ‘direct’ air route to Europe (i.e., not via South Africa) before he would commence work but the planning ‘consultation’ process commenced early in 2021. The St Helena Heritage Society filed objections, saying the development Inter Alia did not comply with land usage and development policies, would adversely affect the people and culture of the island and would damage local bees and honey production.

He also bought Horse Pasture and at the time of writing it is not known if public access for picnicking and camping will still be permitted. It is also not clear if the resort will still be as eco-friendly as SHELCO originally envisaged.

Blue Hill in pictures

Stay here?

From our page Where To Stay:

The Levelwood, Sandy Bay and Blue Hill areas are relatively remote and therefore provide few accommodation opportunities, but each area has its own charm and if you do stay in one of these you can be assured of peace and quiet. To get anywhere else you will need to drive for about 15 minutes to reach the centre of the island, from where everything is available.

Population by district:{g}

Read More

Article: St Helena & the Cross, Anglican church at Blue Hill, and the Mutlah bell

By Richard Grainger, published in the ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{4} #48, 2019{5}

Head O Wain 1966
Head O’Wain 1966

Blue Hill is a district of Saint Helena. It is sparsely populated and covers almost a third of the western-most part of the island. The people exist by farming but because of the scarcity of flat land the rearing of cattle and sheep are prominent in the district. This is a major change since the 1960 when the harvesting of flax was an important part of the economy.

Until recent times access to the Blue Hill area was difficult due to the steep ridges and the limited amount of roads and transport available, which has only improved in the last couple of decades. Even in the 1960s people had to walk out from the Guts and valleys or if they needed assistance they would ride out on a donkey, which were very numerous at the time. The main road, for example, finished at Head O’Wain clinic with only tracks going further to the settlement and cottages at Horse Pasture. The isolation and the need for a focus for the community led to a move to create a church in the area. Prior to the building of St Helena & the Cross the nearest Anglican Church was the cathedral at St. Paul’s some 5 miles away and potentially a rugged walk along the Sandy Bay Ridge in bad weather.

Bishop Cannan (1992) has given an account of the development of the church. Back in 1941 two acres of land were purchased from Solomon and Co for the sum of £20 but it was not until ten years later that the foundation stone was actually laid.

Work was carried out by the Public Works Department and the completed church was dedicated by the Bishop on 3rd November 1951. The cemetery was consecrated on 15 June 1952.

on 16 November the Bishop blessed and anointed a bell of which the date is 1856, and the name Mutlar (sic), to be the bell to call the Faithful to Mass and Prayers in the Churchyard of St Helena & the Cross at Gurling’s Gate. Formerly a ship’s bell, for many years this bell served as house bell at Bishopsholme, to Bishop Holbech and subsequent Bishops.{i}

It is not clear how Bishop Holbeck came into possession of the bell but a ship’s bell it certainly was. Mutlah is a port near Calcutta so the ship was possibly built to trade with India and destined to call at that port.

The Mutlah was an iron built sailing ship constructed by C Mitchell and Co who had a yard at Low Walker on the Tyne. The yard was founded in 1852 not long before Mutlah was built in 1856 and launched on 30 September of that year. At the time of her launch she was 314 gross registered tons with a length of 116.6 feet, a beam of 25.3 feet and a draught of 14.1 feet. She had no engine but was rigged as a barque which was a relatively efficient rig that could be managed by a small crew.

Mutlah remained with C Mitchell and Co until she was sold to Charles and Henry Maynard and Thomas and Charles Nicholls of London on 16th April 1858 and registered there the following month on 17th May 1858. In 1874 she was sold to J T de Garayazde of San Sebastian and renamed the Josefita which closes the story of the Mutlah{6}.


{a} Tourist Information Office{b} Andrew Turner{c} Andrew / Peter Neaum{d} CKW Photography{e} Jeb Brooks{f} Emilia Clarke{g} 2021 Census, taken 7th February 2021.{h} Government of St Helena, 16th February 2017{5}{i} Cannan, Edward, Churches of the South Atlantic, 1502-1991, (Oswestry: Anthony Nelson), pp 135-136., 1992{5}


{1} This photograph was actually taken in 2002, but the only thing that has changed since is the prices have gone up!{2} 174 from a total population of 4,439{g}.{3} Blue Hill First School had only opened in September 1988, with ten pupils of compulsory school age and four pre-school children.{4} The four ‘Wirebird’ publications should not be confused.{5} @@RepDis@@{6} www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.