The town of Plymouth was once the capital of the Caribbean island of Montserrat and was home to 4,000 residents. The island itself is a British Overseas Territory and has been referred to as the Emerald Isle of The Caribbean, due to its large number of Irish settlers. It is, along with Labrador and Newfoundland in Canada, the only place where St Patrick’s Day is celebrated outside Ireland. The local dialect even contains some Irish words.
First discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, the island was then settled by the Irish, then officially under the rule of the King Of England. The French captured the island in 1666 before being taken by the English and has remained a British territory for most of its subsequent history.
In 1995, Soufrière Hills volcano erupted, causing much of the island to be evacuated, including the capital, Plymouth. The eruptions had begun in June and continued for a number of months until in December, the evacuation order was given. The residents were allowed back in a few months later however in June 1997, a massive eruption killed 19 and reached the island’s airport. Plymouth was therefore evacuated again and has been abandoned ever since.
In August of 1997, 80% of the city was destroyed and buried under 1.4 metres of ash. The airport and docking facilities were destroyed and many people left for nearby Antigua, Guadeloupe or other islands. Some people went to the United Kingdom and United States. The entire southern part of the island was abandoned and an exclusion zone was created around the volcano meaning travel to the south was restricted. Although completely abandoned, Plymouth is still classified as the capital and therefore, is the world’s only ghost town capital of any political territory.
The government was moved to Brades in the northern part of the island however a large amount of shops and official buildings were left behind buried in the ash in Plymouth. A new port is being constructed at Little Bay and an airport opened in 2005 at Gerald’s. While the island of Montserrat has begun to recover, its former capital Plymouth lies abandoned.
Location: Plymouth, Montserrat
Category: Ghost Town
There’s some great indepth info about the Soufriere Hills volcano eruption here.