In cooperation with the Bermuda Natural History Society, Professor Edward Laurens Mark of Harvard University, was instrumental in establishing the Bermuda Biological Station in 1903, initially located at the Frascati Hotel in Flatts. In 1906 the Bermuda Government was planning to build an aquarium and research laboratory near Flatts Bridge (now the location of the Bermuda Aquarium), however, in 1907 the British War Department withdrew from several locations in Bermuda and Government decided to lease Agar’s Island which became the home of the Bermuda Biological Station until 1931.
Close to Pembroke Parish, Agar’s Island was the location of a huge underground powder magazine built in 1870 by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. In 1908 it was transformed into a public aquarium, opened by none other than Mark Twain, while the rest of the island was leased to the Bermuda Biological Station. Laboratories and housing for around 20 students was built and in 1915 Dr. William John Crozier, also of Harvard University, was appointed to manage the station on a year-round basis. In 1917 the British War Department reclaimed Agar’s Island and offered the Bermuda Biological Station nearby Dyer’s Island as a temporary location until May 1919, when the station moved back to Agar’s Island. This can be well documented with postal history.
In 1997 Agar’s Island was bought by billionaire James Martin, famous for writing ‘The Wired Society’ in 1977, predicting computers and the internet 25 years later. In 2005 he donated $100 million to set up the James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford University, designed to bring together researchers to work on new ways to deal with the biggest threats to humanity. Calling it ‘Gunpowder Island’, Dr. Martin spent millions of dollars creating his retreat on Agar’s Island. He died in 2013.
Rambling Notes of a Bermuda Philatelist published in December 2023 and is available at bookstores island-wide.