In 1754, Antigua was recorded as “the key of the British Navigation to all the Sugar Islands, and even Jamaica itself.” To protect this vital interest, the British Crown dispatched the Royal Navy to patrol the Caribbean. English Harbour, along the south coast of Antigua, was chosen for the region’s only dockyard and repair facility. Its narrow entrance, deep bays, and high surrounding hills provided protection during hurricanes and prevented enemies from sailing by and spying on the daily operations. Warships could careen, repair, and resupply in safety.
The Copper and Lumber Store is a large Georgian yellow brick warehouse, built in 1789 just as the heyday of naval operations in English Harbour were getting started. The building contains three large connected galleries. The ground floor was used to store lumber for repairing wooden warships, and copper sheets. The copper was used to cover the bottoms of warships. Copper protected the wood underneath and prevented marine growth on the bottoms. This increased the life of the warship as well as its speed.
The second story and attic spaces under the gabled roof were used to house sailors while their vessels were being repaired. The sailors would sling their hammocks along the beams much in the same way that they would at sea.
After the Royal Navy abandoned English Harbour in the 1890s, the buildings fell into disrepair. Extensive renovation work was carried out in the 1960s. To preserve as much of its original use as possible, the building was converted into a boutique historic inn. The renovation work consisted of replacing the interior timbers using the same post and beam technique historically used. The major change was to the roof, with the middle of the center gallery opened to create the gorgeous central courtyard.
Each of the suites are nods to the historic character of the building and Nelson’s Dockyard, appointed with antique furniture and finished with Georgian inspired touches. The romance of English Harbour is found in the weathered brick arches and exposed timbers, harkening to a different time.
History is what sets the Copper and Lumber Store apart from every hotel, and every suite comes with its own story from the Battle of Trafalgar.