The name Cockspur Way in West Bay may prompt snickers from passing travelers – but for the “Devil” who lives on this street, it’s no laughing matter.
“I wanted to call it Farrington Road, but officials told me I had to be dead first,” said Ivan Farrington, who can often be found dressed up as Satan at the Devil’s Hangout in Hell, West Bay.
“I tried appealing it to the Street Naming Committee to change the name but they would not budge,” Mr. Farrington said.
Instead, he said, he went with Cockspur, named after the Barbadian rum that he once enjoyed drinking.
Mr. Farrington was quick to inform the Cayman Compass that he gave that up some 40 years ago, and now spends his time dishing out hellish puns after he bought the old Fountain Road Post Office in 1987 and turned it into a tourist site.
The area was also home to a piece of land on which many cockspur plants – also known as grey nicker, among other names – grew. The seeds of those plants, called “nicka” were used by children to play marbles.
Mr. Farrington says he bought half of Cockspur Way from a man called Steady Parchment for 100 pounds some 35 years ago. In later years, he acquired the other half.
Playing the Devil does not stop his belief in God. Every day, Mr. Farrington says, he asks the Lord to show him if he has done something he does not want him to do.
Mr. Farrington was born at a place called Goat Yard in West Bay, which was named after the many goats that were kept in the area.
Just a stone’s throw from the Devil’s Hangout, Mr. Farrington’s home on Cockspur Way is not a bed of fiery embers but a grassy garden with lots of fruit trees, despite the blistering heat.
His modern-day “Hell on Earth” home sits on concrete posts, surrounded by a well-kept garden and plantation.
A walk through Cockspur Way offers views of manicured yards and many mango trees. It is a quiet street with a few family homes and no outward sign that the “Devil” lives there.
The same cannot be said for nearby Hell Road, which is home to Hell Post Office and the Devil’s Hangout, as well as the jagged, dark limestone formations that feature in many tourists’ photographs.
The legends behind how Hell got its name date back many decades and vary from storyteller to storyteller. A faded sign at the site claims it was called Hell because an early commissioner visited the location, and looking out at the barren, black rock formation before him exclaimed: “This must be what Hell looks like.”
Mr. Farrington tells another tale relating to an official who clearly was not a great shot: “Commissioner [Allen] Cardinall went behind the building to shoot a black bird that was resting on the pointed jagged black rocks. He missed and shouted, ‘Oh Hell.’”
If Mr. Cardinall, who was commissioner of the Cayman Islands between 1934 and 1940, had hit the black bird, who knows what name that road might have been given, Mr. Farrington surmises.
Hell may drum up images of a place of fiery punishment and damnation, but the site in West Bay is home to a gas station, a couple of souvenir shops, a nightclub, a post office where letters can be officially postmarked from Hell, and residents who look on as a succession of tour buses, taxis and rental cars veer onto Hell Road to deliver another group of tourists to the Devil.
“Hell Road was known as Fountain Road years ago,” Mr. Farrington recalled.
Back in those days, Fountain Road was just a dirt track through a cow pasture. A man by the name of Dody Parsons lived there.
“Mr. Parsons never wanted anyone to drive a car through his grass piece for fear of killing his cows so he planted a big ironwood post in the middle of the track,” Mr. Farrington said. “Whenever Commissioner Cardinall visited West Bay, Mr. Parsons would remove the post and replaced it just as soon as the commissioner had left the area. “The commissioner told Mr. Parsons never to block the road again and that was the end of that,” he added.
One of the souvenir shops at Hell is attached to Mr. Parsons’s old house, which he built more than 100 years ago.