The Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams (1898-1971) is regarded as a hero of the social revolution in Barbados.
A lawyer by profession, he represented Clement Payne after the 1937 riots and used his oratorical skills and shrewd mind to advance the cause of the underprivileged.
He was instrumental in the formation of both the Barbados Progressive League (now Barbados Labour Party) in 1938 and the Barbados Workers Union in 1941.
He was involved in a number of social reforms that improved the lot of poor Barbadians:
- The Barbados Workmen’s Compensation Act
- The Wages Board and Labour Department
- Minimum Wage legislation
- The construction of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital
- Universal Adult Suffrage
Adams became Barbados’ first premier in 1951, a position he held until 1958, when he left to become the Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation. When the Federation was disbanded in 1962, he returned to Barbados, was re-elected into the House of Assembly and became Leader of the Opposition.
He was the father of the late JMGM “Tom” Adams, prime minister of Barbados from 1976-1984.
The Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams died on November 28, 1971 at the age of 73.
A secondary school and Barbados’ airport are named in his honour.
He was among the ten National Heroes named in 1998 and National Heroes Day is celebrated on his birthday.
Grantley Adams International Airport is Barbados’ only airport. Originally called Seawell Airport, it was renamed in honour of the Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams in 1976. Between 2004 and 2006, the airport underwent substantial expansion and renovation to better equip the airport to handle the more than two million passengers that pass through it annually.