The Exiles Club, in the centre of Georgetown, was constructed in 1830 as a single story barracks for the Marines with the second story and the clock-tower added in 1848. The clock-tower supposedly replaced the earlier tradition of firing a cannon on an hourly basis to mark the passage of time.
A new barracks was constructed next door in 1903 with the Exiles Club being retained for storage and emergency accommodation until with withdrawal of the Navy from the island in 1922 when the island became a dependency of St Helena (which it remained until the Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha came into existence on 1 September 2009). The new barracks were demolished in 1966 laving the original barracks.
As far as I can ascertain, the barracks name – the Exiles Club or Building – was related to Napoleon’s exile to St Helena. In other reviews I have mentioned that permanent habitation on Ascension Island coincided with Napoleon’s exile – a British garrison being placed here to intercept any attempts to free Napoleon from St Helena. Of course this may be of the mark and it is so called because everyone here feels as if the are exiles.
With the withdrawal of the Navy, the building became the Ascension Club but in later years was renamed again to the Exiles Club and became a social club for Cable and Wireless staff. Again when it ceased to be a club I can’t ascertain.
Today the ground floor has been partially given over to a couple of shops (see my separate review on shopping) and the verandah has become a favourite shade spot and resting place for roaming donkeys.
It is rather sad to see this historic building beginning to decay. In reality I feel that unless there becomes a government need for the building funds will not be available to stop a decline to oblivion. It probably doesn’t fall within the remit of the Conservation Department and the local Historical Society lacks funds.