I met Marina Delfos about two years ago when I started volunteering with Falmouth Heritage Renewal (FHR). To say that Marina is passionate about heritage would be an understatement. As founder of Jamaica Heritage Walks, she conducts walking tours of Falmouth’s historic district, the town’s Jewish cemetery, and introduces visitors to local foods.
Last February, at its annual preservation seminar, FHR presented a session on historic metalwork and Marina took us on a tour of the 200-year old Jewish cemetery, which has some fine examples of metalwork. Following the session, I asked Marina if I could interview her about the work she’s doing to help preserve the historic town.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. For example, how long have you been leading the tour? Are you a native of Trelawny?
I started Falmouth Heritage Walks in February 2011 with a tour of the historic district of Falmouth. Last year I expanded the tour to include a culinary walking tour – “Falmouth food tour” (a collaboration with Jamaica culinary tours) and a walking tour to the Jewish cemetery.
Officially I have been doing a tour of the Falmouth Jewish cemetery since December 2013. I volunteered to take over the maintenance of the cemetery back in 2011 as there was really no one else to do it, and occasionally i would be asked to show persons around.
I was born in Kingston but I like to think that I am from Mandeville as that is where I spent most of my younger life. I was drawn to Falmouth because of the history and with the master’s degree in heritage management that I obtained in London back in 2005, it was the perfect place to locate to.
2. Tell us about your family’s history in Jamaica. When did they arrive? What country did they come from? (I’m also interested in the Jewish story in Jamaica)
On my mother’s side, my grandfather’s (Vivian Mervyn Bromfield) family has been in Jamaica from the mid-1700s. He is descended from Andrew Bromfield and his coloured slave. These Bromfields originated from the border of England and Scotland.
My maternal grandmother was third generation Irish from Canada and met my grandfather in the mid-1930s when she came to Jamaica with her first husband, a Welshman suffering from tuberculosis. They had heard that the air of Malvern, St. Elizabeth was healing and stayed at my grandfather’s guesthouse near Malvern. Her husband died and somehow my grandfather got in the picture and she moved to Jamaica in 1939 with her two young sons. It was quite a thing to marry a “coloured” man in 1939. My grandfather was very successful in the apiary business at a young age and then went into the hardware business following in the footsteps of his uncle, Duncan Clacken.
My father is a Greek born in Alexandria, Egypt, and met my mother in London. They returned to Jamaica a couple of years after they got married, and he worked at Pan Am then the Jamaica Tourist Board, before leaving Jamaica in 1972 to go to Australia.
I am not sure if I have any Jewish connections but my father had family in Corfu, which had a very large Jewish population before World War II and sometimes I am told Bromfield is a Jewish name.
3. How old is the cemetery?
We estimate just over 200 years old. The oldest readable grave is dated 1815 – Isaac Simon Esq.