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Excerpted from the book, Jamaica, by Don Philpott

As we continue along the A2 through Porus, at the center of an important citrus growing area, we arrive at Mandeville. It was named after Lord Mandeville, the eldest son of the Duke of Manchester, the Governor after whom the parish is named. Manchester parish is the island's largest producer of bauxite, a red ore. This explains the red soil seen throughout the parish.

Mandeville is the chief town of manchester parish, Jamaica's mountain resort, the island's largest urban center. The town was laid out in 1816 and many of the original buildings can still be seen. Although only 64 miles (103km) from Kingston, Mandeville has a charm - and a climate - all of its own, as if it has been sheltered against al the developments in the capital and around the coast. It has a town square, parish church and clock tower, and many large, elegant early nineteenth-century houses to see along the winding streets. The square is more like a village green and Mandeville has been described as the most English town on Jamaica.

It is now a tourist center with delightful and charming hotels and guesthouses, and the market town for the surrounding rich agricultural areas. You can buy a wide variety of fruit and nuts for a picnic from the roadside stalls. It is also a service center for the two nearaby bauxite works.

Mandeville Square and Green are the heart of the town and surrounded by most of the oldest buildings. The Court House was built in the 180s from locally hewn limestone blocks. Beside it is the former rectory, the oldest building in the town which over the year has been an inn, guesthouse and is now a private house. The Parish Church also dates from the early 1820s, while the Mandeville Hotel on Hotel Street is a town landmark. It was built as a barracks for English troops, later became the Officers' Quarters and Mess, and in 1875 changed to a hotel. The Information Centre is at the Astra Inn on Ward Avenue, beyond the Tudor Theatre, and teh Sugar Industry Research Institute is to the north off Kendal road. There is a S.W.A. Craft Centre close to the Manchester shopping plaza, and the town market, just south of the square, sells fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and meat including goat heads that are considered a delicacy.

The railway station is just to the north at Williamsfield where there is also the small High Mountain coffee factory and the Pioneer Chocolate factory - 963-4216, both of which can be visited. There are tours of the Coffee Factory where you can see the whole coffee process from the roasting of the beans to grinding and packing. By appointment - 963-4211.

Other Things To See And Do In And Around Mandeville

The massive Alcan Kirkvine bauxite works are to the north east, and tours can be arranged. The Cecil Charlton Mansion is a mile and a half (2.5km) south of town on Huntingdon Summit. The unusual octagonal house looks out over pastures and corals with grazing cattle and horses, and there are aviaries in the garden.

About 10 miles (16km) north of Mandeville is the delightful hill town of Christiana. It is remarkably well preserved, the churches date from the mid-1800s and there are many fine old buildings. If visiting this market town, visit Hotel Villa Bella, a hill top plantation surrounded by citrus trees and coffee plants. You can enjoy traditional English tea on the verandah which offers stunning panoramic views, eat in the excellent restaurant, or stay overnight in one of the delightful rooms.

You can also visit the Magic Toy Factory, which produces all wood toys and souvenirs. The Gourie Recreation Centre is just north of Christiana on the B5 and offers many hiking trails and the Gourie Cave the source of the Black River. Grove Place has the island's largest livestock breeding research station. It is to the northwest on the B6 and further up the road is Mile Gully that has a pretty nineteenth century church.

The Paul Cross Nursery, on Manchester Road, near Newleight Road, was started by a New Jersey Catholic priest as a self-help project Plants produced, mostly anthuriums, are mainly exported to the US. There is a charming courtyard area with lily pond and a large variety of orchids. You can also visit by appointment the gardens of Carmen Stephenson off New Green Road. She specializes in orchids, anthuriums and ortaniques. The beautiful grounds of the 120 year old Manchester Club, off Caledonia Road, host chamionship golf and tennis tournaments during July. The 9-hole couese is the Island's and the Caribbean's oldest, with a very English feel about it.

Marshall's Pen is an eighteenth century Great House on a 300 acre (120-hectares) cattle ranch and wildlife sanctuary. The former coffee plantation was bought by Arthur Sutton in 1939 and is now famous for rearing Red Poll calves. The present owner, Robert Sutton, is one of the Island's leading ornithologists, and there are birding tours of the estate and almost 100 different species have been recorded. The estate can be visited by appointment only.

Shooter's Hill offers great panoramic views, and just to the east, close to the junctions of routes B4, B5 and B6 is te Pickappepa factory which produces piquant pepper sauce, not unlike Worcestershire sauce, which is exported worldwide. Bill Laurie's Steak House is rated one of the best in the Caribbean and overlooks Mandeville. It also has a museum of antique cars, carrigaes and license plates from all over the world. The area offers the chance for hiking, horse riding, birding and camping.

From Mandeville the A2 runs to Spur Tree, the site of Marlborough Great House, built in 1795 in Palladian style, and then on to Wilton and Santa Cruz. It then runs along a stretch of highway known as Bamboo Avenue to Middle Quarters. For almost three miles (5km) the towering bamboo forms a gently swaying tunnel. As this is a very popular scenic drive, there are the attendant vendors along the roadside, and if you are feeling hungry, you can snack on delicious shrimps.

You can also visit one of Jamaica's newest attractions, the Ostrich Park at Lacovia. This 100 acre (40hectare) working ostrich farm also features a collection of exotic birds, petting zoo, horseback riding and a food pavilion. There are a number of trips into the interior that can be taken here. It is worth taking the short detour north here on the B6 to YS (really Wyess, but almost always written as YS), north of Middle Quarters, to visit the YS Falls set in 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of pastureland. The seven waterfalls cascade down about 120 ft (37m) into the YS River that then runs south into the Black River.

From YS take the right hand fork, still the B6, to Maggotty with the Maggotty Falls and the Apple Valley Park, in the center of town with fishing ponds and rods for hire, boating, trails, waterfalls and camping. Also visit Glenwyn Halt, on the riverbank just outside town with its thatched huts and local arts and crafts.

In Appleton you must visit the Appleton Estate that produces what many people consider to be the world's finest rum. From Maggotty you can continue north through Retirement to visit the Accompong Maroon Village, although if you are continuing round the coast to Montego Bay, it is perhaps better to take an organized tour from there.

Return to th A2 that then runs south to the fishing village of Black River with its bright gingerbread houses along the water's ede. The town used to be a busy port, noted for the export of timber, sugar and honey. There is a popular produce market on Friday and Saturday.

The Black River is the longest in Jamaica and one of the haunts of the rare Jamaica crocodile. It runs to the sea on the left hand side of the road through a marshy area. The Waterloo Guest House in Black River was the first property in Jamaica to have electric lights, and if you want to relax you can bathe in the Black River Spa or the nearby Crane Beach.

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