9th Jul 1925- 24th Jan 2006
ARCHAEOLOGY: the study of human culture through the recovery of material remains and environmental data
ARTEFACT: a human-made object, such as a tool, weapon, or ornament, especially one of archaeological or historical interest
GEORGIAN: a style of architecture developed in 1714 during the reign of King George I. It remained popular until the 1830s, during the reign of King George IV.
While serving in the Royal Corps of Signals, Nicholson was the army’s high-jump champion in 1946.
Caribbean Icons in STI Volume 2
Desmond Nicholson established the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in St. John’s and the Dockyard Museum in English Harbour. He produced 25 booklets on Antigua and Barbuda’s heritage, and lectured on local history and archaeology.
Desmond Vernon Nicholson was born on 9th July, 1925 in Southsea, Hampshire, England. He attended the Saltus Grammar School in Bermuda and Clayesmore School in Dorset, England and the Camborne School of Metalliferous Mining in Cornwall, England. In 1946, he joined the Royal Corps of Signals and served for two years. Nicholson left England with his family in their schooner, Mollihawk, but when they stopped off at English Harbour, Antigua in 1949, they fell in love with the place and decided to stay.
During Nicholson’s first year in Antigua, a wealthy American asked him to take his family sailing on the Mollihawk. This launched a successful yachting and tourism industry in Antigua and Barbuda, which helped to revive the country’s economy following a slump in the sugar industry. His family repaired the ruins of the Georgian dockyard at English Harbour and established several businesses in the tourism sector.
In 1967, Nicholson’s discovery of artefacts in Freeman’s Bay rekindled his schoolboy passion for archaeology. He explored this passion extensively and collected so many artefacts that he decided to preserve them for the people of Antigua by establishing the museum of Antigua and Barbuda in St. John’s. He also played a key role in the rebuilding of the English Harbour naval base now known as Nelson’s Dockyard.
Over his years of public service, he served as President to the Antigua Archaeological Society in 1971, President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology from 1979 to 1983, and Director of the Dockyard Museum in 1996. He received Antigua’s Order of Honour (Silver) in 1994 and the Cowrie Circle from the Commonwealth Association of Museums in 1999, in recognition of his exemplary work and contribution.
Nicholson died on 24th January, 2006. He lived his life by the motto, “Knowledge, to be of any value, must be communicated.”