When in Hamilton, you may well see policemen posing for tourists’ photographs at a lovely looking human-sized birdcage located at the junction of Front Street and Queen Street.
The ‘birdcage’ as it’s known is bizarrely and charmingly called the birdcage not for looking like a giant home to domestic two-winged pets, but rather it is called it after its designer and creator Geoffrey Bird.
The blue and white metal structure – which has been a model for many a jewellery piece and fireplace ornament – was created by Geoffrey as a shelter for traffic police in order to protect them from the elements when directing traffic in times past. The junction now has traffic lights, but before these were installed, police had to control often heavy traffic and jams by hand and arm signals and were exposed to long periods of sunshine and heat as well as the odd spell of inclement weather.
Geoffrey, who dedicated his to Bermuda through his work, passed by one day and dreamed up the birdcage after “seeing a policeman standing there and realising he needed to be protected from the elements”.
Now a popular landmark in Bermuda, these days it’s just a posing station rather than a police station for those on the beat.
The cage has been there since the mid-nineteen fifties and isn’t going anywhere soon; you will often see policemen wearing the world-famous Bermuda shorts posing for pictures with and for tourists.
As well as the birdcage, Geoffrey was also responsible for many things in Bermuda and will be fondly remembered by locals. He lived a full life and distinguished life and sadly passed away in 2011. An Englishman, he moved to Bermuda not long after the Second World War to refurbish the Princess Hotel in 1948.
Before arriving in Bermuda, he had an illustrious British naval career as a pilot and air gunnery officer and was highly decorated, receiving the Russian Convoy Medal, Malta Defence Medal, the General Service Medal, the Atlantic Star and the 1939-1945 star among others.
During his time in Bermuda, Geoffrey served as the Corporation of Hamilton’s first engineer and surveyor was responsible for the construction of City Hall, the fire station on King Street, the Belmont Hotel, KEMH, Reid House and the British American Building. A keen sailor, he also co-founded the Marion to Bermuda sailing race in 1975 and introduced the concept of condominiums to Bermuda. He also fought for reduction of the working week of construction workers from 60 hours to 45 hours and succeeded.
Other notable, yet not exhaustive, positions he held were: Commodore at The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club; President of the Royal Naval Officers Association and The Mariners Club; and as Chairman of the Bermuda Sailors’ Home.
Geoffrey also served as an executive committee member of the Bermuda National Trust and was a Maritime Museum trustee. Geoffrey will live long in the memory of many people, not least by policemen and people who know the history of the birdcage, and by his wife Jean and step-children Wyndham and Conway Bennett.
The Birdcage, Hamilton
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The Birdcage in Hamilton – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles’ Things To Do in Bermuda series!