William Fraser began working at the Botanic Gardens in 1919 as a Time keeper and rose to the position of Caretaker (Curator) between the period 1939-1941. He lived then at the Caretaker’s house at the Botanic Gardens with his wife Semiramis, children Joyce, Rennetta, Montgomery and step-daughter, Doreen.
Mr. Fraser was a well disciplined man who discharged his duties seriously. He commenced work at 6am when he opened the gate which he locked at 6pm every evening.
Then he journeyed to the catchment that was constructed to collect rain water. Here he measured the rainfall in a rain gauge and recorded the result dailyon a prepared sheet. Every Friday this record was sent to “Head Office”-The Agricultural Department.
At nights, Mr. Frasermade a tour of the Gardens with his flashlight to ensure that all was well. On several occasions he chased out couples who wanted to be left alone in a secluded spot.
The female workers did daily raking of the leaves to ensure that “spotless” lawns were maintained. There was also daily sweeping of the paved roads with “brooms” that fell from the Mountain Cabbage Palm trees.
Mr. Fraser kept the Gardens well maintained at all times Hewas often commended for this and for his dedicated and outstanding work by the Superintendents under whom he served-Messrs Robinson, Hamshell and Cave, who lived at the Superintendent’s House which now houses the Museum.
During his tenure, a great deal of propagation work was carried out at the nursery. There was also a lot of grafting done at this time; hence, it was not unusual to see many trees wearing“bandages” around their limbs. These “bandages” held the plants together and were labelled to indicate which plants were involved in the grafting processand the completion date.
There was a wide variety of fruit trees including Mango: Julie, Ceylon, Peach and Number Eleven and the exotic Velvet Tamarind, Gub, Mangosteen, Governor plum and Blue fruit, which he guarded zealouslyespecially from the children who flocked the gardens at fruit bearing time. There were also the Captain Bligh Breadfruit, the Jack Fruit, Cocoa, Nutmeg, Clove and Cinnamon trees.
Special mention must be made of the Comb and brush tree, the Rubber tree, the Soufriere tree, the Ylang Ylang (perfume) tree, the Bean tree which bore pods of red and black beans, a little smaller than a twenty-five cents in size. The flowering trees: Flamboyant, Cassias Frangipani, Poui and a variety of Palms. Then, the towering Timber trees: Oak, Teak, Eucalyptus, Mahogany, Whistling Pine, Cedar and Mountain Cabbage Palm.
It would be remiss of us if we failed to mention the well kept pond with fishes and beautiful lilies, the Doric Temple, the abandoned Well and a variety of flowering plants.
All the foregoing and much more, attracted visitors and locals alike to the beautiful Gardens.
Mr. Fraser was also concerned about the social welfare of the workers and due to this formed a Cricket team. As captain of the same, he was regarded fondly by team members and was referred to by all as “Cap”
The “ball ground” (cricket pitch) was located across the stream adjacent to the Gardens and some distance from Mr. Sardine’s Apiary. On Sundays and Public holidays they engaged teams from as far as Green Hill and Lowmans Leeward, in friendly cricket matches.
Mr. Fraser retired in 1954, after 35 years of dedicated service.
Written by Rennetta Fraser-Nicholls and Joyce Fraser-Samuel (children of William Fraser)