Highway to be named in honour of Walter James Francis
A motion to name part of the highway commencing from the main roundabout in
Road Town ending at Port Purcell "The Walter James Francis Drive" was
passed in the 14th Legislative Council on Tuesday February 18th.
The motion was brought by Chief Minister the Honourable Ralph T. O'Neal and
fully supported by all Members present.
The late Walter James Francis was a British Virgin Islander born 5th May
1915 and who played a key role as Public Works Department Road Foreman in
the construction of many important roads in Tortola and Virgin Gorda, such
as the Blackburne Highway, West End Road, Joe's Hill, Cane Garden Bay,
Great Mountain, Fahie Hill and Purcell.
Chief Minister O'Neal said Mr. Francis was highly esteemed and respected by
successive Heads of the Public Works Department for his integrity,
productivity, dependability and dedication to duty. He said it was
considered desirable that the Legislative Council, on behalf of the people
of the Virgin islands, do honour and commemorate Walter James Francis by
naming a public road after him.
The motion was seconded by District 4 Representative and government
backbencher, Hon. Mark Vanterpool. The stretch of road to be named the
Walter James Francis Drive runs through the 4th, 5th and 6th Districts.
Hon. Vanterpool said the late Walter James Francis was a man who has made
an invaluable contribution to the roads network of the territory. "Indeed,
this is a splendid way of remembering one of our own who has toiled as Mr.
Francis did for his country."
Minister of Communications and Works Hon. Julian Fraser said this was the
fulfillment of a promise made by the government at the ceremony to
commission the new traffic lights.
Minister Fraser said government has started a process of honouring
outstanding Virgin Islanders, with the naming of the airport after former
Communications and Works Minister Hon. T.B. Lettsome. "The third stop will
be in Sea Cow's Bay, where as soon as the differences can be settled with
Ellis Thomas at the race track, we will be back here honouring him for his
dedication to horse racing in the territory."
Minister of Health and Welfare Hon. Ethlyn Smith remembered him as a humble
and honest man. "If only we could take a page out of his book, the BVI
would be better off."
She suggested that there are other outstanding Virgin Islanders who should
be honoured as well for their dedicated service to this territory,
including Luther Scatliffe, Wilmoth Hamm and David Freeman. "We need to get
rid of old names such as Drakes Highway and use our people's names, so
generations yet unborn would come to know our people and the contributions
they have made to the development of this country."
Chief Minister O'Neal, in summing up, said he struggled to find certain
information about Mr. Francis' contribution, because of the lack of records
kept back then. "That is why I have started a system where there must now
be an appointment on record for every civil servant."
Several relatives of the late Walter James Francis, including daughter Ms.
Claudette Francis and grandson Mr. Gregory Hodge, attended Tuesday's
Legislative Council meeting to witness the passing of the motion.
The monuments have already been constructed on the median near the
Wickham's Cay roundabout and at Port Purcell roundabout. The ceremony to
name the Walter James Francis Drive is expected to be held shortly.
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