Lennards “Scrubb” Wellington
Leonards “Scrubb” Wellington, St. Lucia’s steel band maestro, started playing pan at the age of seven years. Like the average St. Lucian, Scrubb was from a poor family and he grew up in the Castries slums. The CDC area, Prince Alfred’s Basin and Conway were his limming spots during his youth days.
Scrubb’s interest in pan started after World War II when a number of expatriate soliders, their families and some locals were celebrating the end of the War. Many people who had interest in the war joined soldiers and other citizens equipped with tins, bottles and cans, to celebrate. These celebrations, which were called “Whole Sport”, were like mini-carnivals attracting people of all walks of life.
Whole Sport became very popular with groups springing out of Faux-A-Chaux, Grass Street, Riverside Road, CDC, Prince Alfred’s basin and Conway. Scrubb played with all the whole sport groups and assisted them with their rhythm.
Together with other people like Apisole, T-jab, Bannf, Scrubb attempted to make pans with whatever cylindrical metal container that was available. Scrubb recalls the first tenor pan in St. Lucia was given to his friend Bannf, by a sailor from a ship which had docked at Prince Alfred’s Basin. At the time Scrubb was a shipwright repairing the cable boat. He could not resist the sweet sound of the pan and immediately pursued playing it. The ship’s crew was amazed to hear Scrubb on the pan and brought him a second pan on their next voyage. Scrub brought the pan to the James Belgrave Club of which he was a member and demonstrated his skill on the instrument to the club members and the community.
Scrubb’s next move was pan making. Together with his colleagues he acquired empty drums which had contained aviation fuel from Pan Am, BWIA, KLM and Air France. Soon St. Lucia’s first locally made pan was produced. Mambo No. 8 “Gregory Porgey”, “If I was a mango tree planted in Laventille” along with local compositions like “Layo pitj,bonda’y” “Castries burning down give us a helping hand”, “Wav’t mod, tjou Nanay” were soon heard on pan.
Scrubb and friends initiated the steelband movement which eventually spread to many communities in the Castries area, Faux-A-Chau, Marchand, Grass Street.
Scrubb and the pioneers formed “Pirates”, St. Lucia’s first steel orchestra. They were invited to play whenever there were ships docked in the habour. Their first major performance was on the Grande Vella, a French ship. They were later invited to play on board the ship on a tour to Martinique.
As life became more difficult in St. Lucia, Scrubb successfully stowed-away to Barbados on board the Orion. About one year later the 1948 fire occurred. Scrubb attempted to stow-away on the Lady Joy to return home, but was caught. He was forced to remain in Barbados where he made pans, taught young people to play and formed about two pan sides.
Scrubb got a ride on board the same vessel the Orion, to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, then to St. Lucia. Life in St. Lucia was even more difficult during the post-Castries fire period so he again stowed away, this time to Trinidad and Tobago. He took up residence in Laventille and got a job in a bakery. Life in Laventille was rough. Rampant robberies, ambushes etc. forced Scrubb to report himself to the authorities. The authorities insisted that Scrubb was a Trinidadian and denied him permission to leave. Finally he was placed in the P.T. Centre (Prohibited Immigrant) for a month then on board the Lady Nelson enroute to St. Lucia.
The Pirates were reorganized and continued to play on the wharf, near street lamps and whenever there was a celebration of significance. The Pirates were invited to play at the governor’s residence in Soufriere on many occasions. Scrubb assisted in developing the steelband movement in the Castries area. Turks, Falcons, Hollywood Steel Orchestra, Basin Boys, Soliders, Baccafi, CYO, Marchand Steel Orchestra were all formed in the process.
Scrubb concentrated on his band, Scrubb’s Steel Orchestra, which was comprised of his sons, close relatives and others.
Author: Lesllie Charles