16 Photos Showcasing Manchester, Jamaica

Manchester is one of Jamaica’s south central parishes. It’s often said that the north coast in Jamaica is for the tourists, while the south coast is for the locals. Of course, no parish is out of bounds for tourists, but it’s just that tourists seldom visit our quiet south coast when it’s more exciting up north. Manchester was formed in 1814 and is named for the Governor of Jamaica at that time. Manchester is primarily mountainous. Over 90% of Manchester’s surface is limestone which gives it an abundance of cockpits, sinkholes, caves and underground passages. That’s why most of the parish’s rivers run underground but form delightful swimming holes during the wet season. The longest and deepest caves in Jamaica are found in Manchester, namely the Gourie Cave near Christiana and the Smokey Hole Cave in Cross Keys. Manchester has large bauxite deposits, the raw material for aluminium production. Important crops in the parish are coffee, potatoes and citrus. Ortanique, a cross between the orange and tangerine, was developed here in Manchester, Jamaica.

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St. Toolis River, Manchester

St. Toolis is a district in Porus on the border of Clarendon and Manchester, in which a gorgeous free watering hole can be found. The residents call it Blue Hole but this river is actually a tributary of the Milk River in Clarendon. Porus was founded by Baptist missionary James Phillippo and became the sixth free village in Jamaica for ex-slaves after emancipation. Porus was originally named Vale Lionel after then governor of Jamaica Sir Lionel Smith, but the name eventually changed to Porus because of the porous nature of the district’s soil.

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Little Ochie, Manchester

Jamaica is blessed with a tropical maritime climate, so we enjoy easy year-round access to freshly caught seafood. Several mom-and-pop stalls and restaurants will prepare this seafood to order, but a few stops have become cultural landmarks cemented in the homes and hearts of most Jamaican households and are even marketed to foreigners as must-see stops. Like most Kingstonians, my usual seafood stops are Port Royal, Hellshire or Port Henderson Road due to their closer proximity, but I’ve always heard of Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant in Alligator Pond, South Manchester. Why? Well, they are said to be one of the best and the oldest so Little Ochie has become somewhat of a household name. Thus, I was more than excited to turn what was originally intended to be a Treasure Beach stop into dining at this seafood stalwart and quintessential Jamaican restaurant.

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Gut River, Manchester

When you grow up learning in school that the parish of Manchester has no rivers or beaches, this one means a lot. Relatively unknown even to my friends born and raised in this parish, Gut River runs mostly underground then emerges for a short 200m journey to the Caribbean Sea. It is found along a narrow remote coastal road and is one of the many places in Jamaica where fresh water can be enjoyed alongside saltwater. Gut River is said to get its name from the German word ‘gut’, meaning good. This is one of at least five rivers found in Manchester Jamaica, but some are seasonal.

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Cecil Charlton Park, Manchester

Mandeville is one of Jamaica’s more developed towns. The town is peaceful and laid-back compared to Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica’s two cities. I’m sure the residents like that a lot since Mandeville and by extension the cool cool parish of Manchester is a popular settlement for Jamaica’s returning residents. Named for former Mayor of Mandeville the late Cecil Charlton, the park’s transformation has been an ongoing initiative of the Manchester Parish Council since 2012. In these few years, the park has transformed from a mere refuge of the homeless to one which is worthy of civic and even national pride. Lying smack in the middle of the town square, this tiny attractive park brings a breath of fresh air and offers a great opportunity to learn more of Mandeville’s history. If you’re ever in this neck of the Jamaican woods, take a stroll here and even a seat for a few minutes.

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