In 1628 St Kitts was divided between the British and the French with the two nations sharing the South East peninsula and its salt ponds. In 1629 a large Spanish fleet captured the island and deported the British and French settlers to their respective countries. However, the settlers soon returned and re-established their colonies. During the 1640s the sugar industry was introduced and this development led to a rapid increase in the slave trade during the next decade.

Some of these slaves were used to help the British build the Brimstone Hill Fortress on the west coast. Construction began in 1690 during a period when the British and French were fighting over St Kitts with the French never really gaining the complete control they craved. Their big chance came during the American War of Independence and they attacked St Kitts with a force of 8000 soldiers in early 1782.

Around 1000 English soldiers, militia, and African slaves held out for four weeks against the awesome array of artillery around them before they finally surrendered. The French then took over but their reign was short lived as St Kitts was restored to the British by the 1783 Treaty of Paris. During the next few years they made Brimstone Hill almost impregnable, which was ironic as the tensions between England and France were easing at the same time largely due to the declining importance of sugar cane.

Extract from Julian’s Journeys