Wilfred “Wil” Onions
Architect
Born September 29, 1908

Bermuda’s best-known and most influential architect of the 20th century, Wilfred Richmond “Wil” Onions was instrumental in developing the revivalist Bermudian vernacular style that came to define the island’s architecture and inspire Bermudian architects long after his death.

Taking the traditional Bermuda cottage as inspiration, he designed graceful houses with large, well-portioned rooms and bearing his trademark features such as high, graceful chimneys and ‘welcoming arms’ staircases.           

His designs include some of Bermuda’s best-known properties commissioned by prominent families. His most famous landmark is City Hall in Hamilton, although he tragically died before it was completed in 1960.


 

 

Berkeley’s opening signals new era
September 6, 1897

A new era in education began when The Berkeley Institute opened at Samaritan’s Lodge on Court Street, Hamilton with 27 students. 

The school was the realisation of a dream that began 18 years earlier when businessman Samuel David Robinson invited five men to his new home Wantley on Princess Street, Hamilton on October 6, 1879 to discuss the feasibility of opening a high school.

Six men joined the original five at a follow-up meeting on October 9. They established The Berkeley Educational Society, and spent the next 18 years raising funds and public support for the school.

The school was named after George Berkeley (1685-1753), an Anglo-Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop, whose plan to establish a college in Bermuda for native Americans a century earlier had foundered.

All but one of the 27 students were black, several of them the children of Samuel David Robinson.  (See bio of Wenona Robinson.)

Five months after the school had opened, students were being prepared to take Cambridge exams  in scripture, Latin, French, English language and literature.

The first headmaster was George DaCosta of Jamaica. He served in the post for 37 years. 

This month Berkeley will celebrate its 125th anniversary. But the status of Wantley, whose planned demolition was halted after an uproar from alumni, remains up in the air. 

 

 

Samuel David Robinson: the driving force behind the founding of The Berkeley Institute.

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