|Grantley Adams House
111 Roebuck Street, St. Michael, Bridgetown
March 31, 1938, the founding fathers of the Barbados Labour
Party met at the home of Mr. James Martineau in Bay Street
to form a political movement. At that first meeting, Chrissie
Brathwaite was elected Chairman and Grantley Adams, who was
out of the island on legal business, Vice-Chairman. Those
present were C.A. Brathwaite, J. A. Martineau, Dr. H. G. Cummins,
Dr. Philip Payne, W. A. Crawford, C. Edwy Talma and Hope Stevens,
a Kittitian living in New York City.
historic movement, begun on March 31, 1938, emerged from the
disturbances of 1937 and brought about a powerful and peaceful
revolution in Barbados. At its inaugural meeting the Party
set itself the objective of providing political expression
for Barbadians, enabling them to participate in the democratic
process. In addition, the founding fathers pledged to improve
industrial relations, provide leadership for the working class
and co-operate with similar organisations in the Caribbean.
It was a period of appalling conditions. Wages were low, there
were very few economic opportunities and there was no legislation
to safeguard the rights of workers. Moreover, only a very
small percentage of the population had the right to vote and
there was an income qualification before a person could exercise
that right. It was from these circumstances that the Barbados
Labour Party in 1938, and in 1941, the Barbados Workers' Union
evolved. The Barbados Labour Party, then known as the Barbados
Progressive League, was formally launched in October 1938
and Grantley Herbert Adams who had become its Leader, inspired
and led the Party for more than three decades. In Edwy Talma's
words, the 'real leader became the titular leader'.
Grantley, the centenary of whose birthday fell on April 28,
1998, along with his early colleagues fought for better social
and economic conditions for the working class and enacted
important pieces of legislation. These included the Workmen's
Compensation Act, the Wages Board Act and the Labour Department
Act. But the most significant piece of legislation was the
Representation of the People Act in 1950 which gave all adult
Barbadians the right to vote.
many improvements was the development of roads and housing.
The Barbados Labour Party also reformed the island's education
system, established Erdiston Teachers' Training College, provided
greater educational opportunities and started the process
of free secondary education with the building of modern secondary
schools. Other early founders were Mencea Cox, (Sir Mencea),
Graham Gittens, Ronald Mapp (Sir Ronald), Orlando "Orrie
Bryan", Hugh Springer (Sir Hugh), Frederick Miller, D.
D. Garner, Edna Ermyntrude Bourne (Dame Edna), Victor Vaughan,
J. T. C. Ramsay, Frank Walcott (Sir Frank) and Hugh Blackman.
objectives of these early architects were social justice,
adult suffrage, free education, better housing and health.
In 1940 the BLP faced its first elections. Its first MPs were
Sir Grantley, Dr. Cummins, Mr. A. Graham Gittens and Mr. Victor
1948 it won a majority of two in The House of Assembly. The
Bushe experiment in 1946 by which four members of the House
would be elected to the Executive was the forerunner of modern
constitutional procedure in Barbados. Grantley Adams and Hugh
Springer from the BLP and Hugh Blackman and Wynter Crawford
from the Congress Party were appointed members of the Executive
the 1951 elections, adult suffrage having been introduced
the previous year, The Barbados Labour Party won fifteen of
the seventeen seats which it contested, at the same time making
history by returning Edna Bourne (now Dame Edna) as the first
female candidate to enter the House of Assembly, and Grantley
Adams, Dr. Hugh Cummins, Mencea Cox and Frank Walcott were
appointed members of the Executive Committee.
1954, Grantley Adams, the father of democracy in Barbados
became the first Premier of Barbados. In 1958 The Barbados
Labour Party won four of the five seats in the House of Representatives
in the Federal Parliament. The candidates were Sir Grantley,
Deighton Ward (Sir Deighton), Victor Vaughan and Gilmore Rocheford.
In addition, Sir Archibald Cuke and Dr. A. S. Cato (Sir Arnott)
were appointed to represent Barbados in the Senate. On Sir
Grantley's becoming Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation,
Dr. Hugh Gordon Cummins succeeded him as the second Premier
of Barbados. The West Indies Federation was dissolved on May
31, 1962 and Sir Grantley returned to Barbados on June 3.
1976 the Rt. Hon. J. M. G. M. Tom Adams became Prime Minister.
On his death in 1985, he was succeeded by Bernard St. John
(now Sir Harold).
1994 the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur became Prime Minister and is
demonstrating superb leadership and excellent economic management.
Barbados Labour Party has good reason to be proud of its leaders
and their records through the passing of significant social
legislation, brilliant economic management, fine infra-structure,
improvement of the status of women and its current plans for
the alleviation of poverty.
Barbados Labour Party also owes a great debt to all its supporters
who throughout the years have staunchly adhered to its philosophy
and upheld its ideals.