Clinton Pickering – Freelance Writer
Mayor of Falmouth and Chairman of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation, Colin Gager wants the childhood home of The Most Hon. Hugh Lawson Shearer declared a national monument.
Mr. Shearer, Jamaica’s third Prime Minister, was born in the legendary community of Martha Brae, the first capital of the parish that has also given birth to several other legendary figures in sports, academia, medicine, other professions and vocations.
In a recent interview with Mayor Gager, he disclosed as far back as when Minister Robert Montague had portfolio responsibility for Local Government and Community Development, representation was made regarding Mr. Shearer’s house, but that seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
“We have applied and asked for some funding to see if it could be restored to its former (state) but that met some hold up,” Mayor Gager told this reporter.
Recognized as the most flamboyant of Jamaica’s eight prime ministers since gaining independence in 1962, young Shearer’s boyhood years in Martha Brae began with his birth on May 18, 1923 to a dressmaker mother an ex-serviceman from World War One.
His early education was achieved at the Falmouth Primary School where his brilliance earned him a coveted parish scholarship St Simon’s College, a privately-owned high school in Kingston.
Starting off his professional life in the field of journalism, from a trainee reporter, Mr. Shearer became editor of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union’s (BITU) weekly newspaper, the “Jamaica Worker”. Concurrently, he honed his skill as a trade union organizer aside union leader Alexander Bustamante.
COMMITTED TO BITU
Although he subsequently campaigned successfully for Bustamante in the Jamaica Labour Party, Mr. Shearer remained committed to the BITU and became its general secretary, Island Supervisor and Vice President, subsequently succeeding Sir Alexander Bustamante as its leader.
Mr. Shearer’s own political career started with him being elected a councillor for the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC). He failed in his first bid to enter Gordon House in 1949 but success came in 1955 followed by defeat in 1959.
However, he was back serving as a Senator and Leader of Government Business post-independence in 1962 and with politics now seeped into his veins, he won the hearts of the people of Clarendon who returned him to Parliament as their Member of Parliament, still following in the footsteps of Sir Alexander Bustamante.
Mr. Shearer became Prime Minister in 1967 upon the passing of Sir Donald Sangster whose tenure in that office was cut short by illness. Mr. Shearer himself narrowly escaped death when while on a motorcade passing through Falmouth, he was injured in the forehead by a spearfishing gun fired at him.
Among Mr. Shearer’s many achievements at home and internationally, was his success in getting the United Nations to declare 1968 “International Year of Human Rights.
Mr. Shearer died in 2004 and with the development of Falmouth by the Port Authority as a major cruise ship port and expansion of the town to include Martha Brae, Mayor Gager hopes that one of the high points of next year’s 250th anniversary of Falmouth as the parish capital will be official recognition of Rt Hon Hugh Lawson Shearer’s birthplace as a national monument.