1st Prime Minister Errol Barrow 1966 – 1976
The Right Honourable Errol Barrow – a national hero and the first Prime Minister of Barbados – is survived by a long list of accomplishments including the independence of a nation.
Founder of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 1955, Barrow occupied the position of Premier of the Government of Barbados from December 8th, 1961 until November 18th, 1966.
Under Barrow, the DLP brought Barbados to Independence in 1966. The Constitution was ratified on the 30th of November that same year.
Barrow continued to head the newly independent country under the title of Prime Minister. The first Prime Minister of Barbados, Barrow secured another landslide victory in 1971 holding the post until September 1976.
Barrow was an enigmatic leader. Born in the parish of St. Lucy, Barrow hailed from a family of political and social activists.
Errol Barrow’s father, an Anglican priest, was removed from his posting on the island of St. Croix for his controversial sermons preaching against racism and social stratification. His uncle, Dr. Charles Duncan O’Neal, was founder of the Democratic League of Barbados and one of the island’s 10 National Heroes.
Errol’s older sister, Dame Nita Barrow was a renowned social activist and humanitarian. In 1990, Nita Barrow was appointed Governor General of Barbados a position which she held until her death in 1995.
Educated at Harrison College, Barrow went on to study law and economics concurrently at Inns Court and the London School of Economics (respectively).
During his college years, Barrow served as Chairman of the Council of Colonial Students where he fraternized with future leaders including Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley, Pierre Trudeau and Lee Kwan Yew.
Achievements from Barrow’s illustrious and varied career also included:
— Flying Officer of the Royal Air Force (1940)
— Personal navigator to the Commander in Chief of the British Zone of occupied Germany during WWII (1945)
Unafraid to challenge norms, he dedicated his political career towards the advancement of Barbados and the Caribbean as a whole. Barrow was a firm believer in regional integration, economic diversity and social welfare initiatives.
During his government tenure, Barrow successfully expanded the island’s tourism and industrial sectors, introduced National Health Insurance and Social Security schemes while expanding the provision of free education for all people at all levels within the country.
Regionally, Barrow is credited with helping establish the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) in 1965. CARIFTA was later expanded and rebranded as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
CARICOM provided a forum for representatives from the English-speaking Caribbean to strengthen relations and economic ties.
Barrow spoke out against the tyranny of advanced industrial nations in the subjugation of small island developing states within the Caribbean.
A humble leader, Barrow was also opposed to lavish government spending by his contemporaries. The only Prime Minister not to claim residence of Ilaro Court, it is claimed that Barrow refused the property because he was not “comfortable living in a house that cost so much money.”
Remembered as the Father of Independence, Barrow is namesake to the island’s ABC Highway and one of Barbados’ 10 National Heroes. His portrait appears on the face of Barbados’ $50 notes.
In 1986, Barrow was once again elected as Prime Minister of Barbados. He died a year later in his home on June 1st 1987. He was 67 years old.
Author: Brett Callaghan