Belmont Estate Grenadas must see attraction Grenada Emblem
 

A bit of history ......

 

Belmont Estate dates back to the late 1600s, during the colonial area, when plantations were first established under the system of land allocation under French rule. First owned by the Bernago family of France, it became the property of Mr.  John Aitcheson Jr. of Rochsolloch, Airdie, Scotland, following the cession of the island by the French to the British in 1763.  Mr. Aitcheson appeared to have taken an active role in affairs of the island as in 1764 he signed a petition to the King protesting instructions to Governor Melville that would deprive the privileges of the representatives of the people.

 
 
 

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Belmont Estate History
Belmont Estate History
Belmont Estate History
Lyris Nyack Marriage of Lyris & Norbert Norbert Nyack
 

He was also a signatory to several other petitions throughout the 1760s. Upon his death Belmont Estate became the property of his father, Mr. John Aitcheson Sr.  Mr. Aitcheson was mostly an absentee landlord who in 1770 leased the estate to Mr. Alexander Campbell Esq, owner of the then adjoining estate, Tivoli. The lease was for a period 13 years a price of £2,520 a year.

Mr.Campbell was a colonist of high standing, a former colonial agent for the island and speaker of the Grenada Assembly, the hero of the "Campbell V Hall" case of 1764-1774. He was also a close friend of planter Ninian Home who later became the island's governor. On the night of March 02, 1795, the beginning of Fedon's Rebellion, Campbell and Home were at Home's estate in Paraclete and they were captured the following morning. In Fedon's Declaration of March 4, 1795, only two names - Home and Campbell - were cited among the 40 prisoners captured at that time. Campbell and Home were executed on April 8th, 1795.

In 1779, the French regained control of Grenada and the island was not returned to British rule until 1783. It is not certain what effect this change of ownership of the island had on Belmont but in 1780, Mr. Aitcheson Sr. left Scotland for Grenada , and died at Belmont Estate on May 31st, 1780 at age 75. He was buried at the estate's cemetery, and his tombstone can still be viewed.

In his will, Aitcheson bequeathed Belmont Estate to his eldest daughter Bethia, stipulating that she was to sell it in the event of his death and after paying all his debts, and to share the proceeds among herself and her two sisters, Margaret and Isabella, and his nephew Gilbert Hamilton, a merchant in Glasgow. At the time of Aitcheson's death, the total value of the estate's assets - including the slaves, animals, sugar mill, coppers, stews, ladles, skimmers, sugar pots, stills, furnaces, still heads, tools, implements, chattels, lands and buildings - was £21,183.00 about £1.5 million or US$2.5 million by today's standards.

 
Belmont Estate History
Belmont Estate History
Belmont Estate History
Lyris and Norbert with Norbert's siblings, Lydia, Morris and Osbert Lyris, Norbert, Lydia, with horse Jolly Miller and Groom - Nuban St. Clair Lyris & Norbert, winning races with Jolly Miller in Georgetown Guyana
 

Following Aitcheson's death Belmont was sold to Robert Alexander Houston of Clerkington East Lothian in Scotland. Following his death Belmont was bequeathed to a family member, Major James Flower Houston and his son Lieutenant Alexander Houston of Her Majesty's Royal Artillery, both of whom were from Montepelier Square, London. The estate remained in the hands of the Houston Family for more than 170 years and in 1944 Norbert and Lyris Nyack of Hermitage, St. Patrick purchased it from the trustees of the Houston Family.

The Nyacks were the first Grenadians of Indian decent to own an estate on the island. Though simple people with only a basic education from the River Sallee Government School, they were both entrepreneuring, diligent and savvy. They made Belmont Estate their home and the base of their new business - operating the plantation. At one time they owned six of the most productive estates on the island - Waltham & Diamond in St. Mark; Plains, Le Tage & Belmont in St. Patrick; and Mt Horne in St. Andrew - and employed more than a thousand persons. They also purchased the Hankeys business at Grenville and commenced the business of a supermarket, hardware store and lumberyard. Mr. and Mrs. Nyack were also horse lovers. They owned several horses over the years and raced and won at horse races in Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. They established the Telescope Race track, just outside of Grenville, a popular sporting and social destination in Grenada in the fifties and sixties. They were a socially vibrant couple - entertaining and being entertained. They both had strong social and civil consciences. Quiet philanthropists, they gave of their time, talent, love or means. Without fanfare or pronouncement, they shared benevolently with Grenada 's Homes for children, the elderly, hospitals, and churches and schools, and to individuals or causes of need. Mr. Nyack was actively involved in politics, and he was appointed Senator, by Premier Eric M. Gairy, a post he held until his death in 1969. His wife Lyris continued to reside at and manage the affairs of Belmont Estate up until her death on December 19, 2001, at the age of 94. She was laid to rest close to her residence at the estate. Belmont continues to be owned by the Nyack family. Though they had no natural born children, they were blessed to raise several nieces and nephews as their very own children including: Tommy, Jean, and Leah and Norbert's sister Lydia.

 
Belmont Estate History
Belmont Estate History
Belmont Estate History
Lyris Nyack Tommy & Wilberforce Nyack Leah Nyack
 

Throughout its history, Belmont has played a major role in Grenada's agricultural economy. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, it was one of the 81 plantations established on the island with coffee being its major produce. Sugarcane was introduced as the main crop later in the 1700s; the ruins of the water mill remains as testament to that part of its history. Cotton, was also a major crop of the estate, being later replaced with cocoa, nutmegs in the 1800s and bananas coming later. The estate is still a major producer of cocoa and nutmegs.

As with most businesses, Belmont Estate has faced several challenges through the years, and has gone through peaks and valleys. Grenada has seen the disintegration of the plantation system and plantations, and the partitioning of lands, and today very few plantations have survived.  The transformation of Belmont Estate to this agri-tourism product is the brainchild of Shadel Nyack Compton, grand niece of Lyris Nyack. The estate first opened it's doors to tourists in April 2002, offering plantation tours, a museum and a charming 20 seat-restaurant. The product was well-received by locals and foreign guests, and within a year, the restaurant had grown to 110 seats. Unfortunately, Grenada was devastated by hurricane Ivan in September 2004, and Belmont Estate sustained severe damage during the hurricane, resulting in total destruction of the restaurant and museum, and significant damage to our cocoa drying facilities. The fields also received significant damage, resulting significant loss of tree crops, particularly nutmegs, and to a lesser extent cocoa and other fruits and vegetables. The tourism component of the business reopened in 2007 after being closed for almost three years.

Through all of our challenges, and in particular the recovery since hurricane Ivan, our team of committed staff has worked ardently to restore, re-build and preserve Belmont Estate, so that you can come and experience all the delights that we offer. We welcome all our guests, to tour and witness a traditional historic plantation at work. The fusion of agriculture, tourism, food and historic and cultural traditions crowned with outstanding warmth and friendliness of our people provide visitors with a unique and outstanding destination so far unparalleled in Grenada.

 
Belmont Estate © 2009