Canada 150 – #12 – Barbara’s Ball.

Canada 150 - #12 - Barbara's Ball.

I drove back from Bridgetown on the 201 the other day, and stopped to take a photo of what we always referred to as “Barbara’s Ball”. Clearly visible from either side of the river, it was always a sign that we were getting close to Bridgetown. (When you are a kid in a car, Annapolis Royal to Bridgetown seemed like an incredibly long drive so we were always excited to see Barbara’s Ball!).

Most of you will recognize this as the Britex ball, standing sentinel over what was the “Elastic Plant” in the early days, having opened in 1960 as a branch of United Elastic Limited. They made elastic for garments (as opposed to rubber bands). I remember school tours of the plant, and using donated elastic in our gym classes in elementary school – some kind of jumping activity that involved elastic… Much later, the company became Britex. Through the years they were always generous in donations – at the Gardens we still have reams of “Britex fabric” that we use as tablecloths and for decorating for special events.

At its peak, UEL/Britex employed hundreds but sadly modern trade and technology issues led to its demise and it closed in 2004. There are lots of great things about its history, as told in this article I found:

The building is now abandoned and derelict, but Barbara’s Ball still stands sentinel, although certainly not the bright and shiny beacon it once was.


Incidentally, the name “Barbara’s Ball” is attributable to my neighbour Barbara who evidently coveted the ball enough that the rest of us began referring to it as hers… Barbara’s sister Heather Foote can fill in any blanks on that end of things! Call it what you want, it is an iconic feature in the Bridgetown area.

PS – does anyone know if the tower/ball had an actual function?



15 Responses to “Canada 150 – #12 – Barbara’s Ball.”

  1. Henry Says:

    Water tower. For fire protection.

  2. Heather Foote Says:

    I believe the ball was a water tower for the elastic plant. When our family Sunday Drives (usually involving ice cream – a bribe?) took us to Bridgetown one day you could see the ball from the highway on the opposite side of the Annapolis River. My sister Barbara gleefully exclaimed “Play Ball!! Play Ball!” when she saw it. Thus, Barbara’s Ball was named!

  3. John Anderson Says:

    yes it was a water tower for the fire sprinkler system. The plant being on well water had to have water pressure for the sprinklers in the event of a power failure.

  4. Neal Says:

    I believe it was a water tower for the boilers that we’re used in the plant. Also, those wires at the top were a Christmas tree that the company lit up each December.

  5. Neal Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t read the other comments. I was guessing on the function so would take others word over my guess. 🙂

  6. Dan Mansfield Says:

    When we first visited Annapolis (from Liverpool) I asked my father what that funny looking ball was. He claimed it was a water tower but I always wondered how he knew that. Sad that it’s no longer in use. Hopefully it remains standing though. It’s an iconic landmark.

  7. Sarah Says:

    Water tower, and that’s what a lot in Bridgetown call it.

    • Sarah Says:

      I asked an official once during Ciderfest if there could be something organised to paint it. The response I got was that it should be as it’s a landmark seen throughout the area. But nothing came of it, which isn’t surprising.

  8. thegardenshutterbug Says:

    The building is in horrible shape. But it would be nice if the tower could somehow be saved.

  9. Brenda Says:

    By the way, part of the old “elastic plant” is occupied by West Nova Agri Commodities. They produce hay and wood pellets. Situated on the west side of the building; the old receiving dock area.

  10. george hannam Says:

    i have worked there for quite sometime an all the time I was there I never heard it called that an I was working maintenance an worked on the ball.

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