Myths laid to rest (Post·Script)

The reason I had decided to write about Hawkesworth bridge and E. G. Hawkesworth was because you can’t speak of one and not the other, but mostly because there is nothing that is truly written about both, allowing certain myths to settle in. In fact, for many years I had heard that the bridge was in South Africa before coming to Belize and reassembled. I myself, and I’m sure many other tour guides, are guilty of delivering this wrong information that was then spon out of control. We know now that it was not the bridge itself that was in Africa, but rather it was Sir Gerald Hawkesworth who was in Nigeria for many years before giving service to British Honduras; so therein lies the confusion. With this research I have answered many questions. I keep thinking about how many phone calls I have to make and how many emails I have to write to my past guests to correct myself that I had delivered wrong information all these years.

We have also heard that Sir Gerald Hawkesworth was the Governor that devalued the dollar in 1949, but we now know that he was already dead when it was devalued. This honor is given to his Excellency Ronald Herbert Garvey. Assad Shoman mentions in his book, 13 Chapters of A History of Belize, that the working class worsened in 1949, that a prolonged drought ruined crops, and that the trade of mahogany and chicle had declined, producing an even greater unemployment. “The Governor, using his reserve power in the Legislative Council, overrode the unofficial members and decreed a devaluation of the dollar.” This is where the road to Independence begins, although it did not happen for another 32 years.

For many, E.G. Hawkesworth passed away of ill health, from the same reasons he had resigned from his post as Governor. Most newspapers only mention his passing, but do not go into details. The Glasgow Herald is the only newspaper that gives further information on his passing. It mentions that he was found on the pavement and that he had apparently fallen from the 3rd floor window. Seriously? Who falls from a window? Was he pushed? Or did he leap? For me, this is where my trail ends. I will honor the person that was a war veteran and gave his entire life to the service. It’s September, time to express our patriotism, so while the parade is going across the Hawkesworth Bridge, we have one other reason to celebrate: it’s now 65 years that the bridge spans over the Macal River and certainly she has the scars and wrinkles to prove it. The bridge is certainly the icon of the west; nowhere else in the country of Belize will you find such a beautiful ballet of cast iron, steel and concreate.

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