Given some recent revelations – thanks to some of our readers – we’ve learned that the “history” we’d provide back in 2011 regarding our visit the previous year to Nassau, Bahamas and our tour of the Queen’s Staircase was inaccurate. At the time we’d reported the carving and subsequent naming of it in honour of Queen Victoria per the telling we’d received from a local guide. Of course that said we should have done further investigation before sharing this story as we’d been warned the previous year during our visit to the Roman ruins of Volubilis in Morocco by a local professor that many of the guides at such sites – even government certified ones – often don’t have all the facts, having cobbled their story together from a variety of sources, many of which also have questionable handles on the actual history of the place. Unfortunately it’s very common in countries where there is limited academic/government involvement with their local historical tourist sites, and with the Queen’s Staircase in particular there doesn’t appear to be much online either.
Some of our readers even reported being told that it was originally carved as an escape route. Which is apparently another common misconception. However this is equally false. The real reason was the expansion of the city and the need to add a sub-division. This in addition to to earlier construction decisions along that ridge, the planners cut the passage to act as an access road during this phase of the project. Started with slave labour, the excavation was still underway when the Abolition Act passed by Victoria’s father Willian IV came into effect during the beginning of her reign (circa 1837), freeing the slaves. So rather than continue with cutting their passage through the hill, they completed the project by carving the stairwell – which they named in her honour. One of the better sources I came across on this for more information about the history of this period is the Islander’s in the Stream (Vol. 2) by Michael Craton, and Gail Saunders. The latter in particular looks like she’s done some extensive research on the timeframe and the island’s history in general.
However if you do across some other resources please send them our way.