The Barbados Landship performs at almost all major cultural events and is usually accompanied by the Tuk band. Although not a real ship, the dancers in the Landship simulate a real ship through their dances and uniforms.
Created in the 1960s, The Barbados Landship was founded by Moses Ward, a Barbadian who had spent some time serving with the Royal Navy. It is said that the Barbados Landship was created out of his desire to simulate the comradeship which existed among the sailors while at sea, as well as the discipline associated with the Navy.
This group which had at first started out as a group of retired sailors became increasingly popularm, and by the 1870s there were several landship groups islandwide.
Unfortunately, by the early 1900s the Barbados Landscape nearly became extinct because the authorities thought that they were poking fun at the real navy when in fact this was not the case. However, by 1930 it had slowly started to regain momentum, and this time it even had its own magazine called the “Barbados Landship Review”. Nowadays, there are also school based landship groups.
It should be noted that in addition to entertaining, the landship also had a charitable aspect to it. Members made regular monetary contributions to a community pool which was used to help out members in times of need.
The meeting place is called “the dock” and the different groups are known as “ships”. Over the years “ships” tended to have names like “Queen Mary”, “Rodney”, “Director”, “Iron Duke”, “the Vanguard” and “Cornwall”.
The “ship’s crew” dresses in naval uniform in much the same way as the professional navy does with sailors, officers, doctors, nurses, a captain, and so forth. In addition, the members also have naval ranks and titles.
During its performances, the “crew” goes through a series of “military drills” and movements, including marches, dances and semi limbo movements to the sound of the Tuk band playing behind them.
Their dances have sea and navy related names such as “rough seas”, “Admiral’s Inspection” and “Changing of the guard”, imitating the situations with which sailors are faced while on the high seas.
The “crew” follows orders given by the officer in charge and the language used is that of “Jack Tars”. One of their popular activities was the plaiting of the maypole.