The National Trust for the Cayman Islands hosted a special talk at the George Town Library surrounding the lives of Rayal and Roland Bodden on 6th May.
The well known brothers are two Caymanian men whose notable achievements include building the Elmslie Memorial Church, the Peace Memorial (Town Hall/Constitution Hall), the Post Office and the George Town Library.
Keynote speaker for the evening was Mrs. Arthurlynn Pedley, who gave the audience a glimpse into the Bodden family’s history, which dates back to the 1760’s; just 20 years after the very first settlers in Cayman were documented.
Mrs. Pedley who is also an employee of the Cayman Islands’ Archive, spent several weeks researching the men and their history, as well as the progression of Cayman’s society that led to their coming to the fore.
With Rayal being the negotiator and Roland doing most of the building, the brothers formed a formidable team that left an indelible mark on the Islands’ Capital and would place them among Cayman’s premier contributors, with many of the buildings they built still in use today.
Members of the public, as well as the Bodden family, who attended the lecture said they were please to have learnt things about their family that they had not known before and noted their appreciation for the presentation, which included a short video produced by National Trust staff to highlight the occasion.
Known also for their ship building, many of the buildings the men built featured ceilings that were fashioned in the style of the hull of a ship and reminiscent of Cayman’s seafaring culture.
In fact, Rayal Bodden travelled from Cayman to Jamaica to learn how to mix materials in a certain way to make the buildings possible and was instrumental in arranging the crews of men who would play a crucial part in the building some of Cayman’s most notable structures.
Shallene Bodden, Grand daughter of Roland Bodden, was interviewed as part of the evening and recalled her time growing up with the men.
She explained that they both had a love and passion for their work that came from their father before them, who was also a carpenter and builder.
Ms. Bodden also noted that she was particularly proud of the fact that her grandfather Roland was now being recognised as he was happy to be behind the scenes whilst his brother made the arrangements and was more upfront with business dealing and, ‘doing the talking’.
“They were as close as any two people could be,” she remarked.
Many Caymanians would have grown up hearing the names Rayal and Roland Bodden, which were synonymous with George Town’s layout.
The audience also heard how at the time that the buildings were being built, many in the community in George Town and indeed all around the Island of Grand Cayman, were against their construction and did not want to see the Town overdeveloped.
However, once in place, the buildings the men built would stand the test of time and serve many generations of Caymanians, even up until today.