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History (His Story) :: The Trench Town Rock Experience


History (His Story)

Errol McKinson

Oil on canvas 24x24

The new residences consisted of one- and two-storey 'knog' buildings, built in clusters or around a central courtyard with communal cooking and bathroom facilities. These residences became the famous Government Yards of Trench Town. Knog construction refers to a labor-intensive traditional method of construction where a timber frame structure is in-filled with brick or rubble then covered with a wire mesh and plastered. The architecture used was that of a rural Caribbean vernacular with hip roofs and wide verandas. Trench Town was a planned community with a hierarchical grid of streets and central sewage and garbage disposal systems.

Trench Town became famous for the talent which emerged from the project. In the 1950s and 60s bread and milk were delivered door to door, each month the CHA would inspect the residences to ensure compliance and tenants paid their twelve shillings per month on time. Trench Town is mainly known for the vast number of musicians it produced. The community has also produced some of Jamaica's top professional, business and political leaders as well as famous sports and religious personalities. This small area contributed widely to global awareness of the impoverished and politically corrupt conditions in Jamaica.

History (His Story)

Errol McKinson

Oil on canvas 24x24

Like the rest of Jamaica, Trench Town became unstable and dangerous in the early 1970s when politics became violent. The two major Jamaican political parties — the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party – had emerged in Kingston and violently enforced code that ensured only their party's supporters had access to jobs and services. The lower part of Trench Town below Seventh Street was sympathetic to the JLP, which in the 70s put it at war with its northern neighbor Arnette Gardens, a PNP stronghold. The road connecting the two, Seventh Street, became the front-line in an all-out war which saw the entire two blocks of Government Yards between Fifth Street and Seventh Streets being destroyed. The community's and Jamaica's greatest challenge today is poverty.

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Cheers,

Errol


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