Hon. Robert Lightbourne, OJ

Over a century ago, the Honourable Robert Lightbourne rose as a son of the soil from Morant Bay, St. Thomas, and made an indelible mark. He was born on November 29, 1909, to parents Robert Augustus Lightbourne, a former politician, and mother, Isabel Adelaide Lightbourne. Robert Lightbourne was educated at the Jamaica College in Kingston, then later studied in England. Twice married, Lightbourne’s known family tree includes five children: four sons and one daughter.

The Hon. Robert Lightbourne is referred to as a pioneer in Jamaican industrialization. He was the first managing director of the Industrial Development Corporation, from 1951-1955 and the ‘Made in Jamaica’ policy is ascribed to him, as he worked assiduously to encourage more businesses in rural communities. He developed industrial incentive laws and is credited for building several factories in Yallahs which boosted employment in and around St. Thomas. Lightbourne also provided engineering scholarships for students to study abroad, who would then return to help develop the country’s manufacturing industry. Additional accomplishments include successfully renegotiating terms of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and the New World Sugar Agreement, 1968, and inventing a grass-drying machine which he presented to the Jamaican Government. His industrialism was also notable in the United Kingdom (UK), where he was chairman of Juney Iron and Steel Co., Birmingham, and helped to produce key equipment needed for World War II. 

A man who stood tall during various political regimes, Mr. Lightbourne served under Prime Ministers Sir Alexander Bustamante, Sir Donald Sangster and the Right Hon. Hugh Shearer. While serving, Lightbourne showed political prowess, as he was a four-term Member of Parliament (MP) for Western St. Thomas and served as the Minister of Tourism from 1962-1972. He also served as Minster of Trade and Industry. He received the Norman Manley Award for Excellence in 1980. 
He passed away in December 1995. The Lightbourne legacy remains evident today, as he is the musical composer of the National Anthem, a reflection of his extraordinary interest in pianos, and the Robert Lightbourne High School was named in his honour.