Following the transformation from the sugar industry to tourism, the remains of the Winfield Estate is now one of St. Kitts’ Protected Areas and is being used as a tourist attraction site.
A protected area is defined as an area of land or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, natural and associated cultural resources and managed under law or other effective means.
O’Neil Mulraine – who has been a tour-guide for 30 years – was one of the first individuals to provide tours to the protected area.
“I was raised next to the plantation and with the knowledge I had on the area, in 1984 I was recommended by the then plantation house owner to give a tour to some persons who visited the location,” O’Neil told MiyVue.com
“The Winfield estate has many undiscovered secrets within its trails that are not yet known, even the locals,” he added.
It was further explained by O’Neil who celebrated his 54th birthday on Monday 31st January that, “Wingfield Plantation is the ruins of the original sugar plantation manor house that is known as Romney Manor. The original historic house is the home of the Caribelle Batik. Wingfield is the oldest plantation on the island and it is the gateway to the rain forest. Many visit this historic spot to view its beautiful botanical gardens, hike the rain forest and examine the plantation ruins.”
One of the most important features of the Wingfield rainforest is that the nearby river and its forested watershed has always been a major resource for the area. Like all plantations on St. Kitts, Wingfield provided for its own fresh water needs. Since the 19th Century it has formed part of the public water supply system serving the population on the leeward side of the island.
According to information from the St. Christopher Heritage Society, there are four dams built across the Wingfield River: the first dam which is the largest, collects the water at the highest point along the river course and is the main catchment from where water is piped for distribution to households. The three other dams are no longer used except to intercept the rush of water down the river. At one time they were part of the system that fed Wingfield estate.