William Sanger Tucker was born in Ventnor in the Isle of Wright in 1830, but he spent most of his life in Trinidad. He was a keen photographer and naturalist and in 1860 he was invited to England by Professor Evans of the Natural History Museum (where some of his work was displayed). On his retirement he took up residence in Tobago, where he lived until he died in 1902.
For well over a century the Tucker family has been associated with the island of Tobago and in particular with the area of Speyside, the former plantation estate where Blue Waters Inn is situated.
It was also in 1860 that William Tucker purchased a number of estates in the east of the island. The main products of the land then were cocoa, sugar, rubber, nutmegs, coffee and cocnuts. as his sons grew up and got married the estate was partitioned and given away. Speyside Estate went to Harry Hislop Tucker, the adjoining Goldsborough wand the Lure Estates in the center of the island (at present Lure Estate is an overgrown and abandoned piece of land) went to Trochtilus Tucker and Mont Pelier Estate (currently a small village) was given to Willie Tucker. Legally the estates are still identified by the above names.
Bird of Paradise
Part of Harry Hislop Tucker's Speyside Estate was the island of Little Tobago. This he later sold to his friend Sir William Ingram. In 1909 Sir William, who had spent part of his life in the Far east imported several pairs of Birds of Paradise to Little Tobago from their native country New Guinea and established them on the island. In 1928 he presented Little Tobago to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago as a Bird Sanctuary. The birds of paradise survived until well into the twentieth century, eventually dying out after Hurricane Flora in 1963.
In the late 1800's Harrt sold some of the Estate to Misses Whitley. who built 5 houses on the land. Misses Whitley later died and the land passed to her son who was later deported from Tobago. The land went up for sale in the courts around 1920 and Alvin Tucker (Harry's nephew) bought it back.
In the very early days of Caribbean tourism, in the 1930s or 40s, Harry Tucker opened the Bird of Paradise Inn, charging five shillings in the peak season and three shillings in the low season. set in converted Speyside estate houses on 50 acres, the Bird of Paradise Inn was one of the first naturalists' centres in the Caribbean. At that time they catered mainly to the nobility who were looking for anonymity and peace and quiet in simple, rustic accomodation while enjoying local cuisine, natural sights and attractions. In keeping with the naturalist focus of Speyside, 65% of the estate (320 acres) was retained as a nature reserve to cater to hiking, river bathing, bird watching and just for peaceful relaxation
In 1949 Harry Tucker sold Speyside Estate to Ned Guinness of the famous Guinness family and returned to Trinidad to live. Ned then sold the Estate to Egbert and Iris Lau who continued to maintain and operate the Bird of Paradise Inn until it was destroyed by fire. Little remains of the original Speyside Estate now, though you will still see the old abandoned stone walls of the sugar factory and the waterwheel as you make the turn into Blue Waters Inn.
Blue Waters Inn Today
Blue Waters Inn is also set on Harry Tucker's former Speyside Estate, on 46 of the original 500 acres that lie to the north of the village. Batteaux Bay was bought from Harry Tucker by his nephew Alvin Tucker, who built a beach house for his family.
It was later leased to an American – a Mr. Petrie – who operated it as a summer camp and diving shool for college students, mostly from North.
When the lease was up, the present owner Glenn Erwin Tucker acquired the property from his father. It is he, with his wife Sheelagh, who has turned it into the bird-lovers' and aquasports paradise for which it is so well known today.