In the heart of the sugar-producing regions of central Westmoreland is the community of Petersfield, a no-frills, one-street rural town that is home to many of the workers of the Frome Sugar Estate. Petersfield is one of the older townships on the island; in fact, it was incorporated as early as the late 17th century as a dormitory community for estate workers on the nearby Roaring River Estate. One Peter Beckford, for whom the town is named, owned the Roaring River Estate at the time. The Beckford family arrived in Jamaica shortly after the restoration of King Charles ll in England, and over time, they built one of the largest fortunes in the West Indies. Some will argue that not much has changed in Petersfield since the 17th century, probably because the pace of life here is much slower than most places in Jamaica.
During the day the street is virtually empty, and only on weekends does the town display any bustle at all! The people of Petersfield, however, maintain a sense of pride in the fact that theirs is a quiet, respectful community, probably because, as one young man replied when asked what the most outstanding thing about his town was, "Decent people live here".
The Roaring River is a marvelous wonder hidden deep in the Westmoreland cane country. The river is a subterranean channel that runs for miles underground before appearing, almost miraculously, at a spot near Petersfield. Lush green vegetation abounds, and water lilies glide gently along the water's surface, destined for nowhere in particular. Just beyond the emergence point of the river, almost carved into the cliff, is the mouth of the Roaring River Cave, a series of subterranean limestone caverns with a small mineral spring inside. Visitors cannot enter the caves without the guidance of a member of the Roaring River Citizens Association, a local community group that maintains the attraction through the contributions for organized tours.
Just outside the Roaring River cave is a deep freshwater sinkhole, which residents of the area will tell you is bottomless. Swimming is permitted here, and the water is crisply refreshing and remarkably pure. There is another blue hole further up the road, set within a calming landscaped private garden, where visitors are welcome for a small contribution.