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Location latitude 17°51'N,
longitude 77°38'W
Capital Town Mandeville
Major towns Christiana, Mile Gully,
Newport, Porus, Williamsfield
County Middlesex
Area 830 square km
Rank Jamaica's sixth largest parish
Population 190,000 in 2001
Commerce Tourism, Agriculture
Bauxite Mining, Manufacturing

The parish of Manchester is located in west-central Jamaica, in the county of Middlesex. Its capital, Mandeville, is a major business centre, and the only parish capital not located on the coast or on a major river. The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley (d. 1969), one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, was born in this parish.

Brief history

Taino/Arawak settlement in the parish was substantiated when in 1792, a surveyor found two carvings, believed to be Amerindian Zemi, in a cave in the Carpenter's Mountains.[citation needed] They are now at the British Museum.

Manchester was formed in 1814, by an Act of the House of Assembly, making it one of the newest parishes of Jamaica. It was formed as a result of the amalgamation of the parishes St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and Vere. The amalgamation was done in response to a petition from the inhabitants of Mile Gully, May Pen and Carpenters Mountain who complained that they were too far away from an administrative centre. Manchester was named in honour of the Duke of Manchester, the then Governor of Jamaica. He was governor for 19 years, setting the record as the longest serving Governor of the island. The capital town, Mandeville, established in 1816, was named after his eldest son, Lord Mandeville.

No sugar estates can be found in the parish; slaves worked on coffee plantations. After emancipation, the ex-slaves became independent coffee farmers. The irish potato was first introduced to Jamaica at Bethany, a town in the parish. Citrus also became an important crop, as in 1920, the citrus fruit ortanique, a cross between the orange and tangerine, was developed by Charles Jackson.

Many of Jamaica's businesses were started in Mandeville; the Mandeville Hotel, one of the oldest in the Caribbean, began operations in 1875. The first "Free Library" in Jamaica was established in 1938, and is the oldest Parish Library.

The growth of the town was given a substantial stimulus when Alcan Bauxite Company opened operations there. It built houses for its then mostly expatriate staff. The relatively high wages lured many educated Jamaicans there. Mandeville continues to grow rapidly due to it being considered one of the most attractive towns in Jamaica and the cleanest of them all. Mandeville boasts no fewer than 14 shopping centres, two hospitals (one public and one private), medical centres and many doctors. Next to Kingston, it provides the best medical services in the island, a major asset for tourism development.

Mandeville is the capital of "community tourism" which was developed and pioneered by Diana McIntyre-Pike of the Astra Country Inn in Mandeville and Desmond Henry a marketing and communications specialist from the south coast. Together they sensitized communities in the central and south area and created the first non-governmental organization for community tourism – the Central and South Tourism Organization (CESTO) in 1987. Since then a company called Countrystyle emerged to market and develop sustainable tourism throughout tourism and the Caribbean. Countrystyle successfully spearheaded the first Sustainable Tourism Conference in Jamaica and the Caribbean where it was decided to established an Institute for Sustainable Tourism based at the Astra Country Inn in Mandeville. Countrystyle has already gained international recognition especially in the Caribbean. Countrystyle’s programme has already been endorsed in St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Anguilla. There are plans now to register Countrystyle as an international organization and to set up an NGO called the Sustainable Communities Foundation through Tourism (SCF) to encourage low interest funding and grants for community tourism projects throughout the Caribbean. Countrystyle has now developed a Community Tourism Secretariat to provide an administrative, marketing, technical, resource and business centre for communities in Jamaica and the Caribbean which is based at the Astra Country Inn – Home of Countrystyle. This secretariat will target village tourism as a viable investment for the communities.

Mandeville and its environs has fertile land – known as "the bread basket in the island." Natural health cuisine, nature tours and walks, organic farming and a healthy lifestyle is normal in this mountain area. The potential for health and fitness tourism is tremendous especially with a cooler and more refreshing climate. Recreational activities are golf, tennis, squash at the historic Manchester Club which boasts of having the first golf course in the Caribbean, badminton, horseback riding, birdwatching and more.


Mandeville, the parish capital is located at latitude 17°51'N, longitude 77°38'W. Manchester is bordered by St. Elizabeth in the west, Clarendon in the east and by Trelawny in the north. Manchester covers an area of 830 km², making it Jamaica's sixth largest parish. It has three mountain ranges — the Carpenters Mountains, the May Day Mountains and the Don Figuerero Mountains. The highest point is 2770 feet above sea level in the Carpenters Mountains.

Over 90% of the parish's surface is limestone so there is an abundance of cockpits, sinkholes, caves and underground passages. Gourie Cave, near Christiana, is the longest of the over 100 caves in the parish, as well as the longest known cave in Jamaica (3505m). Smokey Hole Cave, in Cross Keys, is the deepest known cave on the island (195m). Oxford Cave, near Auchtembeddie, in the NW part of the parish, is another of the major speleological sites found in Manchester, and was once noted as a roosting site for the now possibly extinct bat species, P. aphylla. Manchester also has large bauxite deposits, with parts of the parish having been strip-mined as a result, notably in William's Field, Hope and Blue Mountain.

The parish offers a variety of climate, vegetation and scenery. The capital, Mandeville, is situated at an elevation of 626 metres (2,061 ft). The town is noted for its natural beauty and salubrious climate as temperatures range from a low of 12.7 °C (55 °F) in December and January, to a high of 33 °C (88 °F) in July and August. There are very few rivers in the parish, and the existing ones are rather small; Alligator Hole River, Alligator Pond River, Gut River, Hector's River, Two Rivers and Swift River. Hector's River runs along the border of Manchester and Trelawny, sinks at Troy where it flows underground for approximately six kilometres and rises below Oxford Cave as One Eye River. Despite this, water supply is generally scarce; the southern districts often suffer drought.

The population of Manchester is 190,000. Mandeville, the capital and chief town of the parish, has a Mayor, Brenda Ramsay and a deputy mayor, Irving Facey. It has a population of over 30,485.


There is no large-scale cultivation of crops as the area is generally mountainous. Crops such as sugar cane require large tracts of flat land. Bananas, coffee and pimento, annatto, ginger are grown, and the parish is noted for its citrus; oranges, ortaniques and grapefruit, much of which are exported. Christiana, 28 km (14 miles) north of Mandeville, is the second largest town of the parish. The Christiana Land Authority assists agricultural development in the region. Irish potato is grown considerably in the Christiana area and it is the centre of a large banana and ginger-growing district. There is also a major profit from the sales of marijuana.

Manchester is a centre of the bauxite mining industry. The first bauxite mining companies were Alcan and Alpart. Alcan, a large world-renowned Canadian company, had a strong presence in the town and was one of the main employers. It lured many Jamaicans because of high salaries and the benefits offered. Alpart, short for Aluminum Partners of Jamaica, was initially formed as a joint venture of Kaiser Aluminum, Reynolds Aluminum, and Anaconda. It is still in operation in Nain St Elizbeth parish, however it is now jointly owned by UC Rusal of Russia and Hydro Aluminum of Norway.


ZQI-TV (TVJ) Channel 13, Spur Tree, Jamaica, Hype TV, CVM, NCU Television (Ch. 188- Flow)


NCU 91.1 FM

Special attractions

  • Norman Manley, founder of the People's National Party, was born in Roxborough in the south of the parish.
  • Marshalls Pen Great House - is a 200 year old great house on a wildlife sanctuary.
  • Factory Tours - High Mountain Coffee Factory, Pioneer Chocolate Factory, Bammy Factory, Pickapeppa Company, Bauxite Factory.
  • Mrs. Stephenson's Garden - is one of Mandeville's prized home flower gardens.
  • Captain Alexander Woodburn Heron's tomb at the top of Shooter's Hill, now called "Heron Hill" by the locals.
  • Bloomfield Great House - an old great house converted to a restaurant with a relaxing ambience overlooking the entire town of Mandeville, popularly known as the steak house. The first owner Billy Lowrey, was one of the few English families in Mandeville.
  • Sunny Lodge, Walderston - Magic Toys, Arts and Craft Workshop

High Schools

The leading high schools are Manchester High School, Bishop Gibson High School (an all-girl school), Belair High School (American system) and DeCarteret College. All these high schools are among the best in Jamaica, producing many exceptional pupils who have become physicians, lawyers, politicians, athletes, radio personalities, musicians, among others. For example, Manchester High school has produced radio personality Jerry McDaniel (a former headboy), musicians Ricardo "Rik Rok" Duccent and Luciano.


There are also several very notable tertiary institutions, The Northern Caribbean University (NCU), a Seventh-day Adventist institution, formerly called West Indies College.

The Church Teacher's College, Mandeville and The Catholic College. There is also another religious-based institution, the Jamaica Bible College, located in the parish.


External links

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Coordinates: 18°03′N 77°32′W / 18.050°N 77.533°W / 18.050; -77.533

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