The Right Excellent Errol Barrow (1920-1987) is perhaps the most beloved of all Barbadian statesmen.
A lawyer by profession, he entered the political arena in 1951, when he joined the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and immediately won a seat in the House of Assembly. Four years later, he left the BLP and formed the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
He contested the 1961 general elections as leader of the DLP and became Premier, a position he held until 1966, when he led Barbados to independence from Great Britain. He then became the nation’s first Prime Minister and led the nation until 1976.
During his first 15 years as leader of Barbados, Barrow achieved many social reforms and national advances:
- Free secondary and tertiary education
- Introduction of a National Insurance and Social Security
- Establishment of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies
- Establishment of the Barbados Community College
- Launching of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA), the forerunner to CARICOM
- Improved health services
- Improved school meals services
In 1967, he received the Head of State Award for “outstanding service to the country” from Lions International.
In 1976, the DLP lost the general elections and Barrow became leader of the opposition. Ten years later, the party was returned to power and Barrow once again became Prime Minister. The Right Excellent Errol Barrow died in office the following year on June 1, 1987.
January 21, his birthday, is a national holiday, and he is one of Barbados’ 10 National Heroes.
Independence Square was once a car park, but the area was redesigned, and in 2007, it reopened as a civic space with fountains and an amphitheatre that overlooks the Careenage. Standing high above Independence Square is a statue of the Right Honourable Errol Walton Barrow, who is also known to Barbadians as the Father of Independence.