Osbert Ward, a traveller who found eternal rest in Puerto
The researcher José Luis García Pérez published in 1988 an impressive work as result of his thesis supervised a year before by the professor, María del Carmen González Fraga under the title “British travellers in the Canary Islands during the nineteenth century”.
Among its pages, we discover various biographies of Englishmen who came to the archipelago when it still retained its natural charm.
Among his various biographies, we find one on Osbert Ward. He was an English traveller who came to live in Puerto de la Cruz, which towards the end of the 19th century was seeing a considerable increase in the British community.
His writings include many observations about the culture of the island and issues relating to the islands and Spain, subjects still reflected today in the pages of the Tenerife News.
Furthermore, the construc-tion of All Saint’s Church and creating spaces like the British Library would be observed by Osbert Ward but who was he?
Born in 1856, he arrived in Tenerife in the late nineteenth century. His arrival on the island was motivated by health problems. Undoubtedly, the benefits of the Canary climate represented one of the attractions that prompted the arrival of many British and other nationalities resident in the islands.
His stay was not in vain and throughout his life, he showed his interest in learning and offered countless details to travellers approaching the Valle de La Orotava. Later, when a book was published in London in 1903 under “The Vale of Orotava”, Osbert Ward highlighted a number of places that might be of interest to the traveller who came to the Valley.
He did not hesitate to write about the events that were developed in Puerto, with stories about the carnivals, local fiestas and so on.
He also mentions details about the “British microcosm” the traveller could see in the place, including the church for Anglican worship, an impressive British Library (which then amounted to 2,000 volumes) and a British cemetery.
Osbert Ward was much involved in the library, as he became the first director, detailing in his articles its lending policy and an explanation on how to become a member.
The work itself is a rich source about the British community in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, being highly requested at the time. Researcher José Luis García Pérez says: “Today, we are presented with a simple document which at the time presented the situation and behaviour of the British colony established in Puerto whilst allowing us to hear from the visitor of those days.”
Osbert Ward died in 1949; his remains rest in the British Cemetery in the centre of Puerto. This is another example of the work of a British traveller who helped spread the characteristics of a valley where he found eternal rest.