from The Essential Paradise, series sourcebook

Doc. 1.80.1 Edit

Rum Island is one of the six major cays of The British Paradise Islands archipelago, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, appearing in the Two Paradises fantasy/fiction realm, as devised by Jonnie Comet.

Basic information Edit

  • Land area: 57.65 sq km (22.26 sq mi) Rank in size: 4th
  • Population: 1189 (1995)
  • Population density: .048
  • Rank in population: 6th Year incorporated: 1931
  • Major industries: agriculture, distribution, retail
  • Townships: Ipping, Southwold, Millbury
  • Island seat: Ipping
  • Largest town: Ipping (pop. 300)

Map of Rum Island

History & geography Edit

Rum Island is the fourth in the contiguous chain of small islands that represent the perimeter of a long-dormant volcano crater. The surrounding waters are riddled with coral reefs, and vessels must approach the island from the northwest via the narrow Steerage Channel or else from Paradise Sound on the south side. Like the other major islands of the archipelago, Rum Island rises abruptly from the water with only narrow beaches round the fringe and high ground in the centre of island. The Rum Island Range to the north and Goose Range to the south form a mild depression in the centre of the island which is almost entirely lush, humid rainforest. May’s Hill, at 275 metres [902 ft], is the highest point on the island.

Rum may have been the last island of the chain explored or settled by Western newcomers and has few if any cultural landmarks dating from before the early 20th century. However, according to several primary sources, the crew of Beagle, including naturalist Charles Darwin, are reputed to have landed here first upon arrival in the archipelago in 1835. Modern islanders speculate that the Beagle must have approached Millbury from the northwest, narrowly avoiding the coral reef; but no specific landing place has ever been definitively identified and the Beagle expedition to the Paradise Islands is commemorated with a marker on Eden Island.

During the 1939-1945 War, the island’s rich fields were cultivated for crops, mainly sugar cane, grains and tobacco, and for herding of dairy cattle in order to provide for the influx of RAF and Royal Navy personnel. After War’s end, Henry Markleigh Chesney, Mark Tola and others relocated for the duration stayed on in the territory and established large plantations along the north side of the Rum Island Range. Today Rum Island accounts for a full 25% of territorial agricultural output including 75% of sugarcane production and over a third of its dairy products.

Rum Island ranks fourth in size amongst the island departments of the Paradise Islands and is the second least-densely-populated (only Caravelle Island is less so). With 1189 regular residents it ranks 6th (only The Sound is lower) in population.

Government & culture Edit

Rum Island holds one seat in the House of Peers, the upper house of Paradisian government. Sir Jonathan True was appointed to this post in 1988, as ongoing development had resulted in a population increase west of Eden Island; prior to this the islands of Hope, Rum and Sugar were considered one department together.

The departmental baronetcy was established in 1984, when Harvey ‘Hatch’ Chesney was knighted by HM The Queen and awarded the responsibility by Sir Carleton Howe, then governor-general. As baronet Sir Hatch oversees royal and governor's prerogative within the island and mediates debate between the territorial government and the populace in general.

All incorporated communities in Paradise are required to be represented by popularly-elected councils. None on Rum Island are classified as cities. The three townships of Southwold, Ipping and Millbury are each managed by five-member councils, each of which elects a term chair. The island seat is Ipping, where much of the judicial, financial and administrative facilities are located.

The hamlets of Wold’s End, Caneshart, Windemere Wold, and Bird Town are each administered by a three-member local board who are represented by one member of each hamlet’s overseeing township council.

Though Ipping is the island seat, Millbury enjoys a slightly-higher reputation as a shopping and financial centre, being the local farmers’ and landowners’ market town. Millbury’s high street, Hillside, includes the second-opened (1964) branch of the predominantly-conservative Cleve’s, the oldest retail chain in the territory.

Away from the main road, especially up along the windward northern shore, life between the bridges on Rum Island has been historically quiet, simple, and unexpectedly inexpensive, remaining untouched by tourism interests. The broad grazing lands of dairies and the sugar plantations are interspersed with tidy pocket farms, herb gardens, fruit groves, vineyards, and flower growers, with the odd rural hamlet or compact manor here and there. Much of the interior too steep, too dense or too remote for agriculture has been kept as undeveloped preserve visited only by what public are hardy or happy enough with uphill interior hikes in lands far removed from population centres, public amenities, or ocean or island views.

Industry Edit

The predominant industries on Rum Island are those of agriculture, with dairy, grain, sugarcane, fruit and vegetables, and associated packing, processing and distribution. Also present are small facilities in electronics assembly, textiles, furniture and metal products, as well as most kinds of retail functions.

Education & welfare Edit

The island is served by West Island High School, attended by 173 students in forms 1-6 (ages 11-17) from Sugar, Rum and the Out Islands, and by two elementary schools for forms 1-4 (ages 7-11), May Hill at Ipping and Millbury Hill at Millbury. In addition small local primary schools, for students aged 4-7, operate within the farming communities of Southwold and Caneshart.

West Island Health Centre, a full-service clinic at Millbury, provides on-island health care. Further clinics are available on Sugar and Hope Islands.

Utilities Edit

Being essentially rural, Rum Island was among the last places within the territory to receive comprehensive public utilities. Most remote farms are still served by off-network freshwater wells, bottled gas and independent septic systems.

Electricity is provided via both subterranean and aerial lines; but, because of the distances between population centres, till recently brownouts and even blackouts were common in outlying areas. Most farms and some communities are equipped with diesel or natural-gas generators to ensure uninterrupted power.

Transportation Edit

No vehicular roads continue entirely round the perimeter of Rum Island. Chesney Road terminates at Caneshart, on the northern shore, and intervening farms, pasture and rugged open land occupy much of the higher northern bluffs and extend from interior rainforest to the shore.

There are no dual-lane carriageways on the island. The island’s highest speed limits (80 km/h) are posted on only Sound Shore Road.

Paradise Transport operate two local bus routes within the island, each extending from Ipping to Sunset Beach on Sugar Island. At peak times, specially for high-school students, additional buses are added to the service.

Windemere Aerodrome, a single-runaway regional airport outside Ipping, serves civil and small-commercial aviation on the island. Prior to the bridges’ completion the aerodrome served intraisland commuters and foreign travellers as the principal point of entry for Sugar and Rum Islands.

Bridges Edit

Despite progressive development of resorts and infrastructure on Sugar Island, Rum Island remained isolated from its neighbours both east and west till the construction of the two-kilometre-long Sugar Island Narrows Causeway at Millbury in 1982. Till that time all transportation between Rum and the other islands was conducted via surface ferries from Ipping or Millbury quaysides.

With the completion of the Saviour’s Pass Causeway to Hope Island in 1988, Rum Island became a link in an uninterrupted 120-km roadway conduit between Casino, on Morning Island’s extreme west end, and Sunset Beach on Sugar Island. This linkage caused furore amongst some landowners and communities on Rum Island due to the increases in both motor traffic and tourist attention and fears that the pristine bucolic environment and secluded culture would be spoilt. The island’s only traffic signal, at Sound Shore Road and the Sugar Island Causeway, was installed to encourage tourist traffic to bypass central Millbury.

At Windemere Wold a narrow causeway bridge, built in 1990, links the main part of Rum Island with Victoria Cay, the seat of The Sound and home to half of that region’s 260 residents.

Ferries Edit

The Cross-Sound Ferry-Foil operates regularly, conditions permitting, between South Quay, Ipping and the Marina Terminal at Governor’s Harbor, Morning Island. The scheduled 30-minute trip covers about 35 kilometres of Paradise Sound.

The Out Islands Ferry, established in the late 1970s to connect The Sound and Rum and Sugar Islands with the rest of the territory, operates on daily schedules from Windemere Wold. The service still includes a stop at Holy Cross on Hope Island as well as unscheduled, as-needed stops at Millbury and Churchill quaysides.

Name of the island Edit

Historical records in the territory suggest that the Polynesian name for Rum Island had been Keatekeo, which means ‘Mountain that talks’. After Western exploration, it was called May’s Island and, alternatively, John’s Island.

Due to the steeply-sloping perimeter the island was not considered particularly habitable and so little settlement took place before the 1930s, when it was discovered that the upper reaches of the hillsides were extraordinarily fertile for crops, especially sugar cane. Thus the island was named for rum, a product of sugar cane, by farmers raising that crop and not by 18th-C pirates as is commonly assumed. Coincidentally, the four northernmost major islands’ names follow a logical sequence: Sugar - Rum - Hope - Eden, reflecting the progress of sugar cultivation from raw crop, through marketable products and hope for the future, to success and a state of commercial and cultural fulfilment.

Notable residents Edit

Stanley Creech

Sir Harvey ‘Hatch’ Chesney, baronet of Rum Island

Noemi Chesney

Mark Tola

Appearances in fiction arcs Edit

Rum Island is the home of Noemi Chesney, principal character of the novel Noemi's Wold, in the Paradise One domain, by Jonnie Comet.

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