May Pen is the capital and largest town in the parish of Clarendon in Middlesex County, Jamaica. It is located on the Rio Minho river (Jamaica's longest), and is a major market centre for the Parish. The population was 61,548 at the 2011 census increasing from 59,550 in 2001, including the surrounding suburbs of Sandy Bay, Mineral Heights, Hazard, Palmers Cross, Denbigh, Race Track, and Four Paths among others. The town has a mayor.
May Pen town centre; the large open-air market is just behind the buildings on the left
Location in Jamaica
|Coordinates: 17.965°N 77.245°W|
|• Total||61,548 (2011 census)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
May Pen was established as a plantation settlement by the British between 1660 and 1683 on a crossing point of the Rio Minho river. It became part of an estate named after its owner; Reverend William May who was born in England in 1695 but in his later years resided in Jamaica. He was rector of the Kingston Parish Church but was later transferred to Clarendon, where he served for 32 years.
May Pen is well located from an administrative point of view in the centre of a largely agricultural parish, and as a midpoint on the Kingston to Manchester road. Boasting a large open air market and transportation centre along Main Street and Sevens Road, the town's centre is often chaotic with activities of shoppers, vendors daily and motorized traffic. May Pen also has many banks, hardware stores, pharmacies and eateries. The town also has a large post office, headquarters for local government, and court house.
The clock tower in the town centre was erected in 1908 after the death of a doctor Robert Glaister Samuel Bell who drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Minho river in 1904. As well as having a memorial plaque to Bell, it has another dedicated to World War I (1914-1918). The first bridge over the Rio Minho was built by 1874 for the local railway company, and rebuilt in the 1920s, it was demolished in 1950 after floods and rebuilt downstream.
May Pen is also an important citrus packing centre, including oranges and a hybrid citrus fruit called an ugli. The Denbigh Agricultural Showground is located approximately three miles west of the centre of the town. May Pen's geographical position is situated near the centre of the entire island. May Pen has long been viewed as one of Jamaica's most important agriculture towns. During its heyday of Jamaican bauxite mining, citrus and sugar production, Clarendon was among Jamaica's leading parishes in terms of economic activity. With the now defunct Jamaica Railway Corporation, May Pen then served as the crossroads of Jamaica natural resources, connecting Frankfield and its citrus plantations in the north of the parish, with Lionel Town and its sugar production in the South. The Alcoa mining and refinery in partnership with the Jamaican government (Jamalco), located south of the town, is the single largest employer of the town, along with the Trout Hall citrus business. The Denbigh Agricultural Show Ground is the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean, and has served to promote regional farmers agriculture, textile and livestock production. Held annually during Jamaica's Independence Celebration weekend, Denbigh often attracted large crowds from all parts of the island to see Jamaica's best in agricultural output, and enjoy festive activities.
While May Pen has no universities, it does have several public and private schools, including Central High School, Denbigh High School, Glenmuir High School (Anglican), Glenmuir Preparatory School (Anglican primary), May Pen High School (Adventist private), May Pen Primary School, Foundation Preparatory School, and St. Thomas Moore Preparatory School (Catholic primary).
May Pen consists of 16 communities:
- City Centre/Main St
- City Centre/Manchester Av
- Bushy Park
- Curatoe Hill
- Four Paths
- Mineral Heights
- Palmers Cross
- Oliver Gardens/Effortville
- Race Track
- Sevens Road/Farm Pen
- Weston Park
- "Population and Housing Census 2011: General Report Volume 1 - page vi".
- "May Pen Clarendon | Jamaica Heritage Foundation". Retrieved 15 July 2019.