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Timeline: History of St. Kitts

300

Liamuiga

Eruption of Liamuiga (estimated).

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1590

Arrival of Kalinago

Francis Drake noted that St. Kitts was uninhabited in 1585. Wood-cutters who had visited the island in 1590 reported no sitings of “Indians”.

1618

Attempted French Settlement

Very little is known about this attempt to settle the island. It may have been a Huguenot group looking for a place where they could practice their religion without discrimination. Warner found French men on the island during his first visit.

1622

First visit by Thomas Warner

After hearing a description of Liamaiga from Thomas Painton, Thomas Warner visited the island to see if it would be a good place to start a settlement.

28th January1624

First English Settlers

Thomas Warner and a small number of men arrived at Old Road Bay in the ship called the Marmaduke. They set up a small fortified community "betwixt ye two rivers"

1625

Arrival of D’Esnambuc and Urbain Du Roissey

Pierre D’Esnambuc and Urbain Du Roissey were privateers. Their ship was badly damaged in a skirmish with a Spanish vessel. They found safe haven in St. Kitts

1626

Expulsion of Kalinago

An English account states that a woman, who was part of the Kalinago community, warned Thomas Warner of an impending attack. The English and French joined forces and repelled it. Tegreman was among those killed..

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1626

First Enslaved Africans on St. Kitts

The first group of enslaved Africans was brought to St. Kitts soon after settlement. They had probably been taken from a Spanish vessel that would have been taking them to one of the Spanish colonies.

13th May1627

Division of the Island

The English and French Settlers agreed to divide the island between them. The French took the two ends and the English settled in the middle.

October 1629

Spanish attack on the settlers

Don Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo Osorio arrived at St. Kitts with a fleet under orders to clear out the French and English presence in the area. Du Roissey, in Basseterre, sent for reinforcements but abandoned the town after the first skirmish. D’Esnambuc wanted to stay but the others decided to leave. Some English settlers remained even thought they were supposed to leave.

1629

Return of the French

D’Esnambuc found an ally in Capt Giron who went to St. Kitts to see if the French settlers could return. The English tried to stop him from landing. Giron attacked English vessels at anchor and used them to return the scattered French settlers to St. Kitts.

1635

New boundaries at Figtree

Having lost ground to the English, D'Esnambuc decided to claim it back. Enslaved Africans were promised their freedom in return for their support.

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December 1636

D’Esnambuc's Death

Pierre D'Esnambuc maintaned a French presence in St. Kitts and saw the settlement of Guadeloupe and Martinique. He died in the Basseterre quarter of St. Kitts due to failing health.

20th Febuary 1639

Phillip De Lonvilliers De Poincy's Arrival

Phillip De Lonvilliers De Poincy landed at Basseterre as Governor General of the the French Colonies in the West Indies.

1st October 1639

Temporary stop in the planting of tobacco

The planting of tobacco stopped for 18 months following an agreement between De Poincy and Warner. This was the result of a glut in the market. De Poincy introduced sugar cane cultivation.

November 1639

Escaped Enslaved Africans

Sixty enslaved Africans left a plantation in Capisterre and set up a community on the slope of Mt Misery, De Poincy sent soldiers to restore order. One man survived as a runaway longer than the rest and achieved heroic status however he was captured and executed before the end of the year.

10th March 1649

Thomas Warner's Death

Warner was about 69 years old at the time of his death. He was buried at Middle Island. He was responsible for introducing a plantation economy on St. Kitts and a number of neighbouring islands. It benefitted European imperial aspirations but left the islands vulnerable.to market forces beyond their control.

1651

Order of St. John acquires St. Kitts

De Poincy persuaded Grand Master Lascaris in Malta to pay 120, 000 livres for St. Kitts, St Croix, St Bartholomew and St Martin

11th April 1660

Governor De Poincy's Death

Governor De Poincy died on the 11th April 1660 at the age of 77 and was buried at Basseterre, probably in the grounds of Notre Dame (now St. George’s Anglican Church). Although he had considerable property, an account of the assets and liabilities showed extensive debts so that the Council of the Order quickly began to consider the sale of the islands.

10th August 1665

Agreement to sell St. Kitts to France

The Order of St. John signed a contract to sell the islands of St. Kitts, St Croix, St Bartholomew and St Martin to the Compagnie Des Indes Occidentales Francoises. Payment was to be completed by 1672.

5th April 1690

Earthquake

In St. Kitts, the earth opened up nine feet in many places and buried solid timber and sugar mills. It caused the collapse of the Jesuit College and all other stone buildings. The sea withdrew a furlong from Charlestown returning after two minutes.

July 1702

English Fleet demands French Surrender

War had been declared in Europe. An English fleet arrived at St. Kitts and demanded that the French surrender. This they did on the best terms that could be obtained. On the 16th July 1702 the English took Basseterre.

11 February 1706

French Invasion

A French fleet arrived at St. Kitts. The invaders raided and burnt several plantations and carried off three hundred enslaved workers before the attack was repulsed. They left suddenly following rumours that the British Fleet was in the area. .

1706

The Burning of Notre Dame

The church of Notre Dame in Basseterre was burnt to the ground. apparently by British soldiers

1708

Compensation Claimed

Planters filed compensation claims with the British Government for losses sustained during the French invasion of 1706.

1710

Erection of St. George's, Basseterre

The burnt-out catholic church in Basseterre was re-built as an Anglican church and named St. George’s.

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1710

Compensation approved

British Parliament authorised the distribution of £103,003 among those planters in St. Kitts and Nevis who suffered losses during the French raid of 1706 and who had re-settled their plantations.

1711

Act for the Better Government of Negroes and Other Slaves

“An Act for the better government of Negroes and other slaves” was passed in St. Kitts. The new law prescribed severe punishments for the enslaved who ran away, or in any way confronted a white person. it also imposed penalties on those assisting runaways, stealing enslaved workers, or trading with enslaved persons.

11 April 1713

Treaty of Utrecht

France and England signed the Treaty of Utrecht. St. Christopher was given to England..

27 September 1720

Black Bart threatened Basseterre

Bartolomew Roberts better known as Black Bart arrived at the Basseterre Harbour aiming to punish those who had destroyed his flagship Royal Rover and killed its crew. Roberts threatened revenge on the island but then sailed away. His own men had transferred its cargo to another vessel and burnt the Royal Rover.

1723

Proposed union of St. Kitts and Nevis

Governor Hart recommended the union of St. Kitts and Nevis with one Council and one Assembly for the two islands but the Council of Trade and Plantations would not move on the matter without the consent of the people. No further action was taken.

1726

Appointment of Commission for the sale of the French Lands

A Commission of three men - Lt General William Mathew, and Messrs. Gilbert Fleming and Edward Mann - was appointed to dispose of the French Lands on St. Kitts. Thirty thousand acres of former French lands became available. The Commission promptly cancelled all previous grants and began to auction off the land in lots of about 200 acres.. However many of the former grants were actually confirmed though at a price. The bulk of the land was sold to planters who already had significant holdings on the island. The proceeds of the sale reverted to the Crown and at least £40,000 went towards the marriage settlement of Princes Ann, daughter of George II .

1727

Basseterre becomes the Seat of Government

The seat of Government was transferred from Old Road to Basseterre. Basseterre became the capital for the whole island.

March 1733

The Molasses Act

The Molasses Act was passed in the British Parliament. It brought into effect trade restrictions between the British Colonies and the colonies of France and the Netherlands in the West Indies.

1733

St. Kitts divided into nine parishes

Parts of the French lands were incorporated into the old parishes of St. Mary, St. John, St. Ann and Trinity. St. Thomas did not border on any of these lands and remained as it had been. The parishes of St. George, St. Peter and St. Paul were created at this time.

1747

Two Violent Hurricanes

There were two violent hurricanes, one on September 21 and the other on October 24. A total of 24 vessels were lost at Basseterre. All were English merchant ships, most of them loaded with sugar bound for England.

1750

The Pasture or Pall Mall Square becomes Government property

The Government acquired The Pasture or Pall Mall Square. It then measured 3 acres 5 perches.

1752

Controlling the Illegal Importation of Sugar

The Governor of the Leewards was urged to have laws passed to stop the illegal importation of foreign sugar.

1755

Mortality caused by Yellow Fever

A fever reduced the white population to 2713 whites. St. Kitts had 321 more white women than men. The African population numbered 21,891..

July-November 1760

Fever Deaths

200 persons died of fever in Basseterre.

1762

Arrival of Rev. James Ramsay

James Ramsay trained as a surgeon and was educated at King’s College, Aberdeen. He served in the British Navy from 1757. Following an injury he took Holy Orders and was assigned to St. Kitts where he was responsible for the parishes of St. John and Christchurch. Ramsay had seen the conditions aboard slave ships while in the Navy. As a clergyman he attempted to convert the enslaved who worked for him. .

1765

Stamp Act Passed to Raise Revenue for Defence

The Stamp Act was passed by Parliament to raise revenue for defence in the British Colonies. In St. Kitts the stamp paper was burnt by ‘rioters’. Kittitians then went to Nevis to make sure that their counterparts there did the same. Objections to it were raised on other islands and in the North American colonies. It was repealed in 1766..

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1770

Curtailing Activities of Free Coloureds

An act was passed to curtail the activities of free coloured population. .

1770

A Consiparcy discovered

An alleged conspiracy among the enslaved of St. Kitts was discovered. Governor Woodley reported that it had merely been a Saturday meeting of enslaved persons who imitated their owners by holding a Council and Assembly and concluding the evening with a dance.

31st August 1772

Storm

A storm passed over St. Kitts. By noon it had abated so much that everyone thought that it was over, but the winds shifted direction and blew more violently. Almost every house, sugar mill, tree and plant in Basseterre, Sandy Point and Old Road were blown down or severely damaged. Several were killed and many more were wounded. The damage was estimated at £500,000 sterling.

4th September 1776

Fire Damage

An extensive fire damaged Basseterre.

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1777

First Moravian Missionaries

The first Moravian Missionaries, John Gottwalt and James Kirkby, arrived in Basseterre at the invitation of John Gardiner.

January 1781

Admiral Rodney took St. Eustatius

Admiral Rodney took St. Eustatius. There he found storehouses full of merchandise to the value of £3 million, a good deal of which allegedly belonged to residents of St. Kitts. The St. Kitts Assembly demanded proof in support of Rodney’s accusations, but Rodney treated their protests with contempt and sold all confiscated goods by auction at prices below value.

12 February 1782

Seige of Brimstone Hill

The French fleet arrived at Basseterre, the regular troops and the miltia, withdrew to Brimstone Hill and Basseterre capitulated. Nevis also surrendered. The French numbering 6,000 men settled down to the seige of Brimstone Hill. In this they were greatly helped by the fact that a number of large cannons destined for the fort were to be found on the nearby shore. The inhabitants had refused to provide slaves to move them up the hill after Rodney’s sale of their property in St. Eustatius. The Fortress eventually surrendered to the French.

3rd September 1783

Treaties between Britain and France

Treaties between Britain and France were signed in Paris. St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Grenada and the Grenadines, St. Vincent and Dominica were restored to Britain.

28th November 1783

Act Passed Prohibiting Mutilation of enslaved persons

An act passed prohibiting the mutilation of enslaved workers. Punishment was to consist of a fine of £500 and six months imprisonment. Those enlavers who could not pay the fine were liable to twelve months imprisonment. Mutilated enslaved persons were to be forfieted to the use of the island and publicly sold. According to James Stephen this was the first law in the British West Indies that afforded the slaves some measure of protection against their masters.

1784

Publication of Ramsay's Essay on the Treatment of Slaves

In 1780 he returned to England and started working on "An Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies". He also published "An Inquiry into the Effects of Putting a Stop to the African Slave Trade." This was the first time that the British public had read an anti-slavery work by a mainstream Anglican writer who had witnessed the suffering of the slaves on the West-Indian plantations. His views were challenged by the plantation owners in England who were threatened by them. .

1785

Captain Horatio Nelson complained about the flying of the Irish flag

Captain Horatio Nelson, complained, “Yesterday being St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish Colours with thirteen stripes in them were hoisted all over the Town [Basseterre]. I was engaged to dine with the President, but sent an excuse, as he suffered these Colours to fly. I mention it only to show the principle of these vagabonds.”

Jordan Burke of St. Kitts was indicted for wounding Clarissa, an enslaved worker. He was fined £50. Wadham Strode was fined £100 for inflicting injuries on the enslaved worker called Peter.

1785

Indictments for wounding enslaved workers

Jordan Burke of St. Kitts was indicted for wounding Clarissa, an enslaved worker. He was fined £50. Wadham Strode was fined £100 for inflicting injuries on the enslaved worker called Peter.

1786

William Herbert found guilty of injuring an enslaved child

William Herbert of Basseterre was found guilty of wounding a six year old enslaved child called Billy and his sister. He was fined 40 shillings. When the magistrates proceeded to send the children for safe custody to the Deputy Provost Marshal, Herbert threatened them with prosecution for dispossessing him of his property. After the children had been treated and returned to him he brought action against the Deputy Provost Marshal for damages. The case was brought before a jury three times until certain members of the community prevailed on Herbert to desist.

18 January 1787

Methodists arrived in St. Kitts

Thomas Coke and three Methodist missionaries, Messrs Baxter, Hammet and Clarke arrived in St. Kitts from Dominica. They were provided with accommodation by Lydia Seaton and Richard Cable a printer and William Bertie, a jeweler. The visitors were all invited to address an audience at the Court House. Preparations were then made for William Hammet to remain as missionary on the island. .

16th March 1792

Denmark Abolished Slavery

Denmark abolished slavery.

1792

Court House

The Tontine, on the East of Pall Mall Square was acquired by Government and turned into a Court House.

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April 1792

Flooding

Rain caused flooding in Basseterre, Old Road and along the Northern side of the Islands. Many persons lost their lives when the torrential waters carried their homes and furniture to the sea. The Moravian Church in Basseterre was spared and services were held in it immediately after the storm.

1797

Report Submitted to the Assembly

A report submitted to the Assembly of St. Kitts showed that lower class whites frequently beat and robbed slaves.

April 1798,

Leeward Islands Amelioration Act passed

The joint legislature of the Leeward Islands opened its proceedings in Basseterrre. It consisted of a General Council (10 members) and a General Assembly (25 members). This was the first such meeting in seventy five years. The matters for discussion included the Amelioration Act. This was meant to regulate the way the enslaved were treated and improve their way of life.

Febuary - March 1803

Earthquakes

Earthquakes were experienced several times at St. Kitts and Antigua.. The strongest shock came on the 19th March.

1803

Instutition for the education of Poor White Children established

An institution was set up in Basseterre for the support of poor white children. The instruction of children of colour and slaves was making progress. The Moravian and Methodist churches had started schools for that purpose. The authorities felt that they had to ensure that the instruction of poor white children “at least keeps pace with that of the other classes”.

March 1805

The French Invaded

The French invaded St. Kitts and demanded the payment of a ransom of £50,000 or the town would be burnt. General Thomas Matthew, a native of St. Kitts who was visiting from Virginia, committed £10,000 of his own money towards the safety of the island. The French were paid a total of £18,000. They withdrew but not before they set fire to six merchant ships and then let them drift out to sea.

25th March 1807

Slave Trade Abolished

the slave trade was abolished in the British colonies.

1817

First Register of Slaves

Following the abolition of the slave trade, the trading of slaves between neighbouring islands became a felony within the British Empire. James Stephen, lawyer and abolitionist strongly urged the keeping of a register of slaves to guard against smuggling. The first register in St. Kitts was created in 1817. This was the first census of the enslaved populations of St. Kitts.

21st-23rd September 1819

Hurricane

A hurricane swept over the Leewards, the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. At St. Kitts it caused a great deal of damage to estate works.

1822

Basseterre Methodist Church was Erected

William Hammet purchased the land now occupied by the Wesley Chapel soon after his arrival. The following year he conveyed it to a Board of Trustees. A wooden chapel was erected on it. In 1822, a building that could seat a congregation of 1500 replaced the wooden structure. The Chapel is now the oldest public building in the town.

1823

Free Coloureds of St. Kitts Petitione

The free coloureds of St. Kitts petitioned for the removal of disabilities that were imposed on them by law.

1824

West Indies Divided into Two Sees

The West Indies were divided into two Sees - Jamaica and Barbados. St. Kitts and the other Leeward Islands were included in the See of Barbados with William Hart Coleridge as first Bishop.

1827

End of Sunday Markets

Sunday markets were popular with the enslaved. It gave them a chance to socialize amongst themselves and to make some money that they did not necessarily have to declare to their enslaver. The Missionaries who started arriving in the island did not like it because it kept the enslaved from attending service in church. .

17th August 1827

Hurricane

A destructive hurricane comparable in magnitude to that of 1772 caused major destruction.

September 1828

Las Damas Argentinas Crew Public Execution

The twenty-eight members of the crew of the Las Damas Argentinas were tried, convicted and sentenced to death for piracy. They were publicly executed at Ponds Pasture.

1830

Rights of the Free Coloured population

Act 524 granted the free coloureds named in the Act the right to enjoy all civil rights, privileges and immunities of other free citizens.

1st August 1834

Emancipation

Emancipation was declared.There were disturbances in various parts of St. Kitts as estate workers downed tools in protest against Apprenticeship.

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1st August 1838

End of Apprenticeship

The former enslaved were to serve 4 years apprenticeship in the case of domestic enslaved workers and 8 year for those working in the field. It quickly became clear that this was going to cause a problem and it was decide to end apprenticeship for everybody..

8th Febuary 1843

Earthquake

An earthquake caused major damage to St. George's Church and the Reading Room in Basseterre. Several stone churches, many sugar mills and other houses and businesses on the island.

1848

Opening of Cunningham Hospital

The Cunningham hospital came about through the efforts of Charles Thornton Cunningham, Lieutenant Governor of St. Kitts from 1839 to 1847 and was named after him. The Lieutenant Governor realized that the estates were no longer responsible for the well being of the workers and so set about creating a new facility.

19th April 1849

Masters and Servants Act Passed

Masters and Servants act passed in the Assembly.

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1854

Cholera Epidemic

Cholera made its appearance in St. Kitts on the 6th November 1854 in Basseterre. The last case was recorded on the 31st January 1855 in St. Paul’s. 3920 persons lost their lives in that short period of time.

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3rd July 1867

The Fire of Basseterre

Basseterre was destroyed by fire.

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12th January 1880

Floods

Floods cause the deaths of 231 persons.

21 March 1894

Laying of Foundation stone of Treasury Buiilding

The foundation stone laid by Lady Haynes-Smith the wife of the then Governor Sir William Haynes-Smith. The contract was won by Gould Bros. The project ran into numerous difficulties and cost much more that was initially budgeted. Once completed it housed the offices of the Administrator, Customs, Audit, Supply and Post Office and a light house. .

17th Febuary 1896

The Portuguese Riots

Workers went on strike on estates near Challengers. Old Road and Dieppe Bay. Some headed into Basseterre and, during the night, street lamps were smashed and shops looted and set on fire. Most of these shops belonged to Madeirans who had come to St. Kitts as indentured servants. These were the Portuguese Riots.

1912

Sugar Factory Started Operations

The Basseterre Sugar Factory started operations.

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5th January 1928

Warner Park

Warner Park, named after Thomas Warner, was officially opened.

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16 October 1929

Establishment of the Girls High School

The Girls High School was placed under the direction of Miriam Pickard from Bradford, England. She was assisted by Eudora Williams. It was located in a small two-storey wooden building on the Irish Town end of the Bay Front. The Headmistress lived on the upper floor. Initially there were nine pupils but by the second term the number had increased to twenty two. In 1946 the school was moved to Victoria Road.

1932

The Workers League

The Workers League was formed. Thomas Manchester and William A H Seaton represented St. Kitts at the First West India Conference held in Dominica.

28th January 1935

Buckley's Strike

Cane cutters at Buckley’s demanded better wages. When their demands were rejected they went on strike. The strikers marched to Shadwell Estate persuading the workers there to join the strike.

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29th January 1935

Defence Reserve Dispatched to Buckley’s

Defence Reserve was dispatched to Buckley’s to deal with the striking workers. Three died and nine were injured.

24th June 1937

General Election held in St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla

First general election was held in St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. The franchise was limited by a property qualification.

January 1940

St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union

St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union was founded.

6th October 1952

General Election Under Universal Suffrage

First General Election under Universal suffrage. Men and women 21 year and over had the right to vote. Symbols were introduced to identify candidates to assist those who could not read and write.

1957

First Carnival in St. Kitts

In June 1957 a group of interested individuals formed a temporary committee to plan the first carnival of St. Kitts. It was felt that a Carnival along the lines of the Trinidad one would help the economy and give visitors something to look forward to. By the end of that year St. Kitts had its first queen show, Calypso Show and street parade full of colourful troupes.

5th March 1961

Launch of ZIZ Radio Station

ZIZ Radio, officially opened its doors in 1961. The building at Springfield had been constructed by the Public Works Department and Karney Osbourne, who had been trained Canada and the UK, was the Broadcasting and Public Relations Officer who managed it..

1965

Government Headquarters

Construction was started on Government Headquarters, Church Street. It was to house new government ministries that were created after the end of Federation.

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27th February 1967

Statehood for St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla

After attempts at Federation failed, the concept of Associated State with Great Britain was created. St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was the first to take the new status. Under this constitution the new State had the authority to make decisions on internal affairs while Britain retained responsibility for external affairs. Anguillans rejected the new constitution.

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14th December 1967

Opening of Joseph N. France General Hospital

The J.N.F. Hospital was officially opened.

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1st August 1970

MV Christina Disaster

The MV Christina was a government owned ferry that had transported passengers and good between St. Kitts and Nevis from 1959. Having left Basseterre with twice the number of passengers that it could safely carry, it sank in the channel between the two islands. Two hundred and twenty seven persons lost their lives.

Dec 1971

First National Carnival

Carnival was reorganized. It became a national event overseen by a committee under the Minister responsible for Culture. This was in response to the competing events of Christmas Festivities and Soul Carnival which vied for public attention..

18 February 1980

General Election

In this Election the Labour Party won four seats, The People's Action Movement won three seats and the Nevis Reformation Party won two seats. PAM and NRP were able to form a coalition and Dr. Kennedy Simmonds was allowed to form the Government.

1st September 1982

Court House Fire

The Court House and Library building was destroyed by fire.

19th September 1983

Independence

St. Kitts-Nevis became Independent.

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1986

Management of Sugar Industry

Sugar industry placed under the management of SSMC.

17 September 1989

Hurricane Hugo

Hurricane Hugo caused extensive damage estimated at $61 million in St. Kitts and $51 Million in Nevis.

22 December 1989

Dr Kennedy Simmonds Highway opened

The 6.3 miles of this road cut through the South East Peninsula. All the amenities were included in preparation for development.

29 November 1993

General Election - Minority Government

A minority government was formed by a coalition between four PAM representatives and one representative of NRP.. The popular vote was won by the Labour Party. Rioting followed the election and a curfew was imposed.

22 November 1994

The Four Seasons Accord

a forum of National Unity was convened by the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Civil Society partners at the Four Seasons Hotel in Nevis to discuss the way forward for the government of the Federation.

3 July 1995

General Election won by the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party

Following the Four Seasons Accord, early elections were called. These resulted in seven seats being won by the SKNLP in St. Kitts. Since it held the majority of candidates, the Party went on to form the Government.

June 1996

First St. Kitts Music Festival

The Music Festival was conceived as a way of attracting visitors to St. Kitts in the low season, as well as an opportunity to expose local artists to various genres of music. .

21 September 1998

Hurricane Georges

Hurricane Georges caused damage to 90% of housing stock in St. Kitts.

August 2000

CARIFESTA VII

The Caribbean Festival of Arts better known as CARFESTA was hosted in St. Kitts from the 17 to 26 August. St. Kitts-Nevis was the smallest Caribbean state to ever host the cultural event..

23rd July 2005

Termination of Sugar Factory Operations

The Sugar Factory terminated operations at 10.00am. This marked the end of the sugar industry in St. Kitts.

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