The Imperial Abolition Act of 1833 was meant to emancipate slaves throughout the British Empire by August 1, 1834. However, the Act required the freed slaves to remain bonded as apprentices to their masters for seven more years.
The anti-slavery movement of which Joseph Sturge VI was a prominent member, fought vigorously against this apprenticeship.
As part of this campaign, Joseph Sturge and three colleagues travelled to the West Indies in 1836 to witness the conditions of the apprentices. It was during his travels that he first visited Montserrat, creating a link between Montserrat and the Sturge family that would survive generations.
Joseph Sturge and his siblings were the proprietors of John & E Sturge Ltd of Wheeley, Birmingham, a firm manufacturing citric acid made from raw citrus juice. Their primary source of citrus was Sicilian lemons. However, the failure of this Sicilian crop led the Sturges back to Montserrat. In 1855, Edmund Sturge, brother of Joseph Sturge VI, purchased three adjoining estates for the cultivation of limes on the island. Montserrat limes provided the necessary Vitamin C to prevent scurvy in British Sailors thus earning them the nickname of Limeys. Edmund Sturge named the resulting plantation Olveston after the area in Gloucestershire, which the Sturges called home.
Olveston House, originally a wooden structure built on the plantations 600 acres, always housed the Montserrat Companys Managing Director. In the early 1950s, Frank Delisle from St. Kitts became the Managing Director of Montserrat Company and moved into Olveston House. With the consent of the Company, Delisle built a cement structure to replace the wooden one that had been Olveston House. The wooden building was purchased by local businessman, Michael S. Gen Osborne and relocated to Jubilee Town on Town Hill. There remained the original Olveston House until surrounded by pyroclastic flows from the Soufriere Hills volcano in the 1990s.
At a time when electricity had not yet been introduced to the island, Delisle produced his own using hydraulics. Electricity was generated by water flowing from the Cot on a nearby mountain and piped to a stone pump house still standing near the tennis court on the Olveston House grounds.
Deslisle, an avid ham radio operator, also used the small cinema in the basement of Olveston House as his base. In 1952, this hobby led to the establishment of Radio Montserrat, at Olveston House.
The following year, aircraft landed at the Olveston House airstrip and Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) was founded.
In the early 1980s Olveston House was purchased by Air Studios owner and Beatles producer, Sir George Martin and his family. For many years, Olveston House hosted renowned artists who came to Montserrat to record at AIR Studios. Among these artists were Sting, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Paul McCartney.
In 2009 following the 3rd evacuation of The Vue Pointe Hotel in Old Towne, sir George graciously allowed Carol Osborne and Margaret Wilson to rent Olveston House