Pigeon Island National Landmark is heralded as one of the most important monuments of Saint Lucias history. It is a vivid representation of the cultural and historical monuments of international, civil, military and marine cross currents, characteristic of West Indian historical change. A living museum within a natural setting, Pigeon Island is being nurtured through careful protection and intelligent development to serve the intellectual, cultural and recreational needs of all who visit this historic site. The picturesque, 44 acre island reserve, off the North West, was originally surrounded by water but was joined to the mainland by a man-made causeway in 1972. Recognizing the need to secure this site where the balance of late eighteenth century naval power was decided, the Government of Saint Lucia designated Pigeon Island as a National Park in 1979 and as a National Landmark in 1992. It is open to visitation 365 days a year with user fees charged at US$3 for residents and US$6 for visitors to Saint Lucia. There is also a fee of US$1 for children 5 years to 12 years old. Pigeon Island National Landmark has a number of heritage attractions and amenities which include:
- Ruins of military buildings used during the battles between the French and the British for the island of Saint Lucia.
- An Interpretation Centre describing the rich history of the island.
- Two beautiful beaches.
- A restaurant featuring local cuisine.
- A pub and restaurant with a historical theme.
- A lookout point at the top of the Fort which gives a panoramic view of the Northwest coastline.
Pigeon Island was first occupied by the Amerindians, mainly Caribs. The island was later occupied by pirates whose leader was a Norman Captain called Francois Le Clerc. He had a wooden leg and was known to the French as Jambe de Bois. The French who owned the island in 1778 declared war on the British, who retaliated by attacking them in Saint Lucia and capturing the island. The British then built a Naval Base at Gros-Islet Bay, heavily fortifying Pigeon Island. From there they were able to monitor the French fleet in Martinique which resulted in the defeat of the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782. Pigeon Island was therefore a key factor in the Battles between the British and the French. In 1909 a whaling station was established at Pigeon Island. Legislation to control whaling in 1952 put an end to this operation. Pigeon Island was leased to Josset Agnes Hutchinson, an actress with the D'Oyle Carte Theatre of England in 1937. When the American established a Naval Base at Rodney Bay in 1940 she left the island. In 1947 she returned to establish a thriving yachting industry, entertaining many guests and giving the island the reputation of a paradise island. She relinquished the lease in 1970, finally retiring to England in 1976. Pigeon Island was restored by the National Trust as a landmark encompassing all aspects of the rich heritage, with emphasis on the glorious period of the late eighteenth century, when the spill-over from the American War of Independence reached the Caribbean. The presentation of this island to the visitor revolves around the Battle of the Saints Theme, which is the focus of a display in the Interpretation Centre located in the restored Officers Mess original build in 1803. Adjacent to the Interpretation Center is the Pigeon Island shop where specialised souvenirs, books, prints and gift items are sold. Pigeon Island National Landmark does more than just excitingly presented history. It is also white sands, luxuriously maintained grounds and home to a variety of tropical flora and fauna. Just minutes away from the capital city of Castries, it is perfect for a half or full day outing tailored to your specific needs - total relaxation or for the more adventurous, an exciting expedition. Whatever your preference, a camera is a must. Pigeon Island offers some of the most breathtaking photo opportunities.
Pigeon Island is one of the Caribbeans most historic landmarks and certainly one of the most beautiful spots in St. Lucia. While Pigeon Islands rich history dates back to pre Columbian times, it is most famous for its role in the 1782 Battle of the Saints. For it was from Pigeon Island that Admiral Rodney monitored Fort Royal in Martinique and set sail to intercept the French troops; fortuitously preventing their rendezvous with the Spanish and saving Jamaica for the British Empire.
Pigeon Island is 44 acres of sloping grasslands, dry tropical forests, beaches and twin peaks. It is connected to the mainland by a causeway and is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It has been restored by the St. Lucia National Trust as a National Landmark, encompassing all aspects of its rich heritage, for the educational, cultural and recreational needs of all.
Pigeon Island is eight hundred and fifty meters long and about four hundred meters wide, with an area just over forty acres. The predominantly features are the twp peaks, joined by a saddle, with a spur to the North East running into the sea.
The French declare war on the English in 1778 as their part in assisting the cause of America War of Independence. The English then attack St. Lucia in one of the most successful Naval and Military engagements in December 1778, at the Battle of Cul-de Sac. The English, having captured St. Lucia from the French, established a Naval base at Gros-Islet Bay and heavily fortified Pigeon Island.
After the Spanish fleet sailed for Havana, and the French for France, Rodney took the English fleet to the coast of North America leaving Commodore Hothom with a small squadron at Pigeon Island.
On the 11th and 12th of October, the most destructive hurricane ever recorded in the West Indies crippled the English fleet at Pigeon Island and Carenage Bay. The H.M.S. Thunder (74 guns) and Beavers Prize (18 guns) were lost with all hands, the H.M.S. Vengeance (74 guns), the St.Vincent Snow (14 guns), the Blache (32 guns), the Chamelions (14 guns) and the Brune (32 guns), were all badly damaged at Carenage or Gros-Islet. In December, however Rodney arrived with re-enforcements.