Tue | Dec 1, 2020

Park Lane Heritage Site - Former Red Hills hip strip to be adorned with Merritone plaque

Published:Friday | September 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Celebrating the 68th anniversary of Merritone, the longest-standing sound system in the world. Sharing in cutting the cake are (from left) Glen Campbell, Monte Blake, Michael Thompson, Craig Ross and Richie Clarke.

On October 21, Park Lane will be closed in honour of Merritone Turntable Sound.

Announced by Councillor Lee Clarke during the media launch of the 28th Merritone Reunion and Family Homecoming, this will be in an effort to highlight and preserve the sound system's history of the country with the unveiling of a Merritone plaque and also to engage the community through arts.

Referred to as Jamaica's original hip strip, Clarke hopes that Red Hills Road will continuously be highlighted as an area that has contributed greatly to the Jamaican music fraternity. "The history of Merritone should be written, and I'm going to try," he said.

Reminiscing on the practice of children gazing out of car window to read building and road signs, he lamented that contemporary children are more preoccupied with their laptops and phones. He notes that to combat this, he has taken on projects aimed at communicating historical knowledge through signage.

In partnership with the National Heritage Trust and KSAC, Clarke's efforts begin with the Merritone plaque on Park Lane. "We need something in big print so we can read and understand what Merritone is all about," he said.

Clarke also used the opportunity to highlight other activities he has undertaken to accentuate the cultural richness of Red Hills Road in an effort to revitalise the space. "I'm trying to bring it back. Let me start with music because it is the salvation of everything," he stated.

According to Clarke, some of Jamaica's top singers have come out of Park Lane, like Flourgon, Lizard, Flabby Dabby and Sanchez. On the same day of the plaque's unveiling, some roads off Park Lane will be named after these prominent musicians. "We're doing this to show the artistes and musicians that we respect them."

During the event, the Donmair Community Youth Club will erect a craft village that will stock wares made by community members. "This, I adapted from Havana, Cuba, where they block off a street and the craft must come from the communities around. We're going to have that craft village every year on or around the 21st of October."