Layou is a small community on the west coast of Dominica with a population of about 450. Though there are a few farmers, fishing is the dominant trade of the community. The community was named after Dominica’s longest and largest river “The Layou.
The Caribs were the first inhabitants of the valley which stretches from Soltan round-about to the sea shores of Layou . In the 17thCentury the Caribs were forced to vacate the area by the white settlers and move to a community east of Layou now called Warner. The white settlers quickly established three main estates in the valley which were named after them; York Valley (Coway the patios name), Clark Hall (Clark the patios name) Hillsborough(gwege the patios name for Greg). Hillsborough (Gwege) was the most popular of three estates because of its close proximity to the river and the sea.
Hillsborough (Gwege) produced some of Dominica’s finest tobacco, sugar, limes, cocoa, sugar and slaves. There is a legend that says Mr. Greg would cross males and females slaves from different tribes to produce special breed slaves who were sold to different parts of the Caribbean. Mr. Greg lived on a hill north of the village which is now occupies by the Layou Housing Scheme.
The area which now occupies the upper section of the housing scheme was a mini Garrison which was also used as a signal point by the armed force. Whenever Dominica was being attacked either by French or English from the north or south, Layou was in the chain alerts of signals e.g. If the attackers were from the north, Fort Shirley would send would a message via a cannon to Morn Espaniol, Morn Espaniol would blast their cannon sending the message to Gel lion, Gel lion would send the message the Salisbury, Salisbury would send to Layou, Layou cannon would go of sending the message further south until it reaches Fort Young.
The community of Layou was where the slaves would live; houses were built to housed three families. The Methodist church was built in and still remains to day as a place of worship and a hurricane sheltre. Though there was a number of Methodists in the community; There was also a strong presence of Catholics who went to St.Joseph to worship. A few years later a small chapel was built by Bishop Arnold Bogart which is now a wood workshop. Layou was the home of two estates warehouses; one for the Clark Hall estate which has been demolished and a dwelling house now stands there; the second has been expanded and now is the worship centre for the Christian Union Community family known as the Surbrook’s church.Coffee, tobacco, sugar, limes, cocoa, limes and rum were shipped from these warehouses in big boats which were called in those days (steamers). The would dock in Layou receive the goods and transported them to Barbados and England.The goods from Hillsbrough would be shipped either by small boats coming up the river to Hillsbrough where there was landing site next to the bridge or at the bay front which is called boardlamer Gwege.
Boardlamer Gwege which is now use to export sand from the community by a minning company; was where the slaves would be auctioned. A ruin which stood there for years was recently demolished.
The cliffs of Terreau forms nest to some of our sea birds.
more on Layou later