The town of Plymouth was once the capital of the Caribbean island of Montserrat but in 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted, causing a mass evacuation. In 1997, a volcanic eruption buried two-thirds of Montserrat under a layer of ash and lava.
Between 1995 and 1997, the volcano remained active spitting ashes all over the lush greenery and rugged, majestic hills. Plymouth’s 5,000 residents needed to relocate and the 5,000 to 6,000 people scattered over the rest of the island faced major problems caused by lack of housing and disruption of the economy. Today the remains of the now forbidden port town litter the landscape, the land now unusable due to pyroclastic lava flows which have destroyed everything in their path.
History of Plymouth
The island of Montserrat was first discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493 although he didn’t land on the island. Over the years slaves were imported to work on the farms established by the colonists. In 1632 the workers on Montserrat staged an uprising and overthrew the local government. Soon after the island was declared under British rule and would remain that way for over 100 years.
The island became part of the federal crown colony of the British Leeward Islands in 1871. It was administered by the Governor of Antigua. In 1958, Montserrat was absorbed by the short-lived West Indies Federation before become a separate colony on 31 May 1962. The town of Plymouth became the capital of the newly created British Overseas Territory.
Back in the 1980s, Montserrat was a hotspot for celebrities, and the lavish Montserrat Springs Hotel was its jewel. Located 2mi (3km) north of Plymouth, the resort offered its guests fashion shows. in September, 1989 Hurricane Hugo devastated the studio and severely damaged the hotel.
The eruptions saw the local economy halted. Rebuilding efforts began in earnest, bolstered by an annual £25 million contribution from England. Despite this, the island struggles to rebuild and tourism hasn’t recovered in Plymouth Montserrat. Montserrat’s population has grown to nearly 5,000 people since the eruption — mostly due to an influx of immigrants from other Caribbean nations seeking work or stability in a country with a relatively low crime rate.