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Newcastle Jamaica

Newcastle was established by the British as a military center in 1840. It is now used as a training camp for soldiers and recruits of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

The location, in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, was chosen by Major General Sir William Gomm, the lieutenant governor of Jamaica at the time, who noted that yellow fever, a major cause of death among British troops, occurred less frequently in the cool of the mountains. And it does get cool. It’s about 10-15 degrees cooler than in most of the island and there’s sometimes snow and ice in the higher elevations in the winter months.

Newcastle parade square with medals

Parade square at Newcastle

Barracks for soldiers at Newcastle

Red roofed barracks at Newcastle station

Newcastle has a parade ground, named for the major general, barracks, a cemetery, and several buildings. A sentry is usually posted at the entrance and as the main road, from Kingston to points east, goes through the parade ground, you’re likely the company doing their normal activities. One morning, it was recruits being put through their paces, another day, the national netball team was in training.

Life at Newcastle isn’t meant to be easy for recruits and soldiers. I’ve read that back when the British troops used it as a base, they would march the 12 or so miles from Kingston, which is at sea level, 4,000 feet up the winding mountain road – with their gear.

Parade ground at Newcastle

Part of the Sir Wm. Gomm parade square

Vehicles arriving from Kingston enter the square here and pass through the compound to Holywell Park and other points east, like Portland.

Cemetery at Newcastle

Newcastle cemetery with gravestones dating to the 1800s

I plan to return to Newcastle when I can do the climb as I’d love to see more of it and from other angles.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.





  1. A great place o visit. Beautiful photos :)
    Muza-chan recently posted..Japanese samurai armor, KabutoMy Profile

  2. Hi Marcia, I love the image of the barracks perched high up on the mountain. Really picturesque for a barracks location. Are they still used as barracks today? Interesting to note that it does indeed snow in tropical paradise.
    Marisol recently posted..Canyoning in DominicaMy Profile

    • It really is a beautiful location, Marisol, and they’re still being used.
      I didn’t even think of it until I was up in the mountains last year and saw ice on the road. Yes, snow in the tropics!

  3. The Major General was very clever choosing such a beautiful place in the hills and saving the troops from yellow fever at the same time. I’m sure morale was high having these views to look at every day
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  4. Hey, I notice clouds there that look just like Seattle! :-) Beautiful photos.
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  5. Fascinating story and views. I can see why it must have been a good place to avoid diseases.

  6. I didn’t even realize that there were mountains in Jamaica! I love how your posts dispel the myth that Jamaica is all about the beaches and all-inclusives – so much to the island that most of us aren’t aware of!
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted..Explore the World with Little PassportsMy Profile

    • Yes, Jamaica is very mountainous. Looking at a relief map Jamaica, you’ll see that less than 10% of the island is at sea level. The rest is all hills. Much of it isn’t high by Canada’s standards but they’re high enough for us.
      I’ve always said that we’ve done ourselves a disservice by focusing only on the sea and sand. There’s so much more and I’m happy to be able to share it with you.

  7. Yes, those are nice shots but now I really want to see pictures of Jamaican ice and snow!
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  8. I love the contrast of the red roofs against all the greenery, its quite lush. Beautiful visit.

    Wanted to invite you to a Monday photo linkup called Travel Photo Mondays on my blog, come and join us on Mondays.
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  9. Another interesting place to visit.

    I also enjoyed the image of the barracks stepped-down the mountain. I could imagine the engineers of the time trying to figure out where and how to place those buildings.
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  10. I can’t imagine carrying all my gear 4000 ft. up – the only consolation would be the temperature lessening as you went :)
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    • Really makes you respect the military.
      The temperature lessening would be a plus as I’m sure back then the city was quite unbearable, especially for the Brits.

  11. Gorgeous photos of the mountains, Marcia, especially with the fog. I’d love to take the trainees’ route–downhill, though!
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  12. For a small (well, relatively) island, Jamaica certainly seems to offer a great variety of climate, landscape and architecture. Very interesting.
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  13. Yet another thing about Jamaica I didn’t know before. Nice shots of Newcastle. I hope that you’ll be able to that climb very soon, Marcia!
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  14. I\\\’m so glad I found this post! Love it! I came up here with my son once for a big dance but have never seen it in the daytime. I\’ve always wanted to return and just hike around in there although I\\\’m not sure people can just do that. Here\’s my story of being up there –

    • Hope you go back to Newcastle in the daytime, Kristi. It is really quite beautiful there.
      Each time I go up, I’ve seen people hiking. Check out Holywell Park for some of the trails.

  15. What a beautiful place Newcastle (Jamaica) is. Some nice pictures. I’ll look forward to seeing some more, and researching the place on Google.

    Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK.
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