National Hero of Barbados – Errol Walton Barrow

The Father of Independence and Social Transformation

Born in the northern parish of St. Lucy on January 21st, 1920, Errol Walton Barrow, a social activist and political leader, was the first Prime Minister of Barbados. Also known as the ‘father of Independence and social transformation,’ Barrow’s life is full of significant accomplishments.

Errol Walton Barrow

The first Prime Minister of Barbados is a National Hero – Errol Walton Barrow.

Not only did he serve in the Royal Air Force during World War II, but he also studied Law and Economics to become an Attorney at Law. After returning to Barbados in 1950, Barrow was elected to the Barbados Parliament in 1951 as part of the Barbados Labor Party (BLP). Disillusioned with the state of Barbadian politics at the time, he sought his political alternative and, subsequently, in 1955, formed the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), going on to become the party leader in 1958.

He served as Premier of Barbados from 1961 to 1966 and proudly led his country to Independence from Great Britain, thus becoming the island’s first Prime Minister. He held this highly respected position for ten years until 1976 the BLP was re-elected back into office. Remarkably, in 1986, after almost ten years as opposition leader, Barrow was again overwhelmingly elected as Prime Minister of Barbados.

However, a year after his re-election, Barrow suddenly collapsed and died in his home on June 1st, 1987, passing away while still in office.

Honors and Legacy

During his time in office, Barrow led the DLP to many significant social and political advances, including accelerating industrial development, expanding the island’s tourism industry, introducing National Health Insurance and Social Security, and expanding free education on all levels.

In 1965, Barrow also led the foundation of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), which later evolved into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Barrow and other leaders of the Caribbean region helped enact the ‘Treaty of Chaguaramas to strengthen the political and economic relations between the English-speaking Caribbean territories.

Errol Barrow is fondly remembered for the following achievements:

— First Prime Minister of Barbados (1966 – 1976)

— Father of Independence

— Supporter of the University of the West Indies and Regional Unity

— Designer of a modern system of public budgeting

— Architect of the University of the West Indies Campus at Cave Hill

— Creator of the Barbados Community College

— Co-founder of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA)

— Inspired the lowering of the age of majority from twenty-one to eighteen

— Co-Founder of CARICOM

Not long after Barrow died in 1987, the Errol Barrow Park, a community park located in the local parish of St. Michael, was opened in memory of the late Errol Walton Barrow.

The Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the University of the West Indies in Barbados, Cave Hill campus, is another honor bestowed upon the late great Errol Barrow. The Centre promotes the making, study, and appreciation of the arts.

In 1998, by an act of Parliament, Barrow was also publicly named one of the ten official National Heroes of Barbados. National Heroes Day on April 28th is a bank holiday celebrating these official national heroes who have played a significant part in Barbados’ history and development.

To celebrate the accomplishments and give recognition to this phenomenal Barbadian, Errol Walton Barrow’s birthday (January 21st) is also honored as a national holiday in Barbados – aptly named ‘Errol Barrow Day.’

An Errol Barrow statue also honors this tremendous local hero in Independence Square, in the heart of Bridgetown, the nation’s capital. Fittingly, this location gives you a view of the Parliament Buildings and National Heroes Square, an excellent nod to this local legend.

Did you know?

Errol Barrow’s portrait is on the $50 Barbadian currency bill, yet another honor for this accomplished Bajan.

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Errol Walton Barrow Roundabout

— 1st Prime Minister Errol Barrow (1966 – 1976)

About Totally Barbados (Edit profile)

Brett Callaghan is the founder and managing director of Totally Barbados. I specialize in writing content for the tourism industry for my island home of Barbados. I help companies build strategies to grow online businesses with SMART marketing, advertising, and social media goals.