Wednesday 12 December 2018

Sweet Sorrow: The Timeline of Sugar in Trinidad and Tobago

16th–18th Century

Sugar cane comes to Trinidad
Sugar cane is introduced in Trinidad circa 1542 by Spanish residents, but only for their own sugar and rum production. For the next 230 years, sugar plays no major economic role.

Tobago’s sugar plantations are developed to a high degree much earlier than Trinidad’s.
In the 1780s, French migration to Trinidad begins after Roume de St. Laurent, a French Creole from Grenada, visits Trinidad. As a result, the Spanish government issues the Cedula of Population of 1783,  which gives crown land concessions to Catholic settlers. French planters from the other islands with their African slaves develop sugar and cotton plantations in Trinidad. In 1797, the British capture Trinidad from the Spanish crown, and the island remains in British hands until Independence in 1962.

Sugar flourishes in Trinidad and Tobago
St. Hilaire Begorrat, a French planter,
introduces the Otaheite cane to Trinidad.
In 1782, a Frenchman by the name of St. Hilaire Begorrat introduces the Otaheite variety of cane, which flourishes in Trinidad. The sugar industry starts in the Port of Spain area.

The first sugar mill is erected in 1787 by a Frenchman, Picot de la Peyrouse, where Lapeyrouse Cemetery is today. Sugar becomes the leading export good and continues to be so, until 1897 when cocoa takes over.

Slave in the sugar
(Richard Bridgens, 1820s)

Slaves planting and harvesting sugar cane
(Richard Bridgens, 1820s)

Hogsheads, very large barrels,
were used to ship rum, sugar
and molasses abroad.
In 1799, Trinidad produces 2,700 tons of sugar. By 1808, there are 272 sugar mills operating, of which 257 are animal-driven and round in shape, producing 9,500 tons of sugar. Through a process of rationalisation, the number of mills dwindles to 101 by 1882, producing 53,000 tons of sugar.

Left: Transporting cane to the mill (Richard Bridgens, 1820s)
Right: Technical drawing of a mill (Bryan Edwards, 1780s)

The technology of sugar manufacturing changes over time. In the industrial revolution of the 19th century, technological advancements like the vaccum pan and centrifuges lead to more centralisation in sugar manufacturing. Smaller factories become uneconomical.
In 1872, the first central sugar factory, Ste. Madeleine, is completed.

In Tobago, the sugar economy ends in the 1890s due to the collapse of the British firm Gillespie & Co. of London.

Top left: Windmill at Lowlands estate, Tobago.
Top right: Muscovado factory with hand-fed conveyor belt.
Below: 1960s modern sugar factory.

Left: Interior of a boiling house, Trinidad, 1820s.
Right: Interior of a boiling house, Tobago, circa 1880s.

Population and crop statistics of the late 18th century.
(From: History of Trinidad by Lionel Mordaunt Fraser)

19th Century

Abolition of the Slave Trade
The abolition of slavery changes the sugar industry permanently. Most of the former slaves abandon the plantations and either migrate to the towns seeking employment or settle on crown lands to grow food crops. A few skilled Africans remain on the plantations, mainly in the sugar factories which require the services of carpenters, masons, boiler-men, carters and factory operators. The African presence on the estates continues, although in diminished numbers.

Emancipation of the Slaves
In 1834, slavery is abolished throughout the British Empire. For another four years, the former slaves are being kept as paid "apprentices" on the plantations, and in 1838 they are given full freedom.

From the 1840s onwards, Trinidad sugar comes under increasing competitive pressure in the UK markets. Reasons for this are a) the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, but not in other territories such as Cuba or Brazil, b) the abolition of import duties from non-British sugar and c) the displacement of cane sugar by beet sugar from the European continent.

Two of Trinidad’s early sugar barons 
Left: James Eccles, father of William Eccles and Rosina Burnley.
Right: William Burnley, 1780–1850, an American, settles in Trinidad in 1798
and becomes the largest planation owner in Trinidad.

Beginning of Indian Immigration
In 1845, the first ship with indentured workers from India reaches Trinidad. The new arrivals are quarantined on Nelson Island and thence allotted the sugar estate on which to work for a period of five years (women for three years). Until the end of indentureship in 1917, approximately 144,000 people come from India. Many choose to stay after their indentureship contracts are over and found families in their new home country.

Population growth between 1782 and 1810
(from The History of Trinidad by Lionel Mordaunt Fraser)

Portuguese and Chinese immigration
In 1846, sugar planters privately charter a ship to bring 219 Madeiran immigrant labourers to Trinidad. They are put to work on the more rigorous but better-paying sugar estates, but the harsh conditions of tropical sugar plantations prove to be too much for them. Some leave for the cocoa estates while others abandon plantation labour altogether and turn to petty shopkeeping. Other ships arrive later in 1846 and in 1847. The Portuguese are not compelled by law to indenture themselves and Madeira does not prove to be a viable source of labour. After 1847, Portuguese immigration is no longer considered a solution to the planters’ predicament and the Madeirans are followed by two groups of Asian indentured labourers—the Chinese and the Indians.

Between 1851 and 1969, 2,645 people from China arrive. The majority of the Chinese immigrants are male, and tend towards commerce rather than agricultural labour. This, combined with the high cost of transport, leads the Colonial Government to discontinue Chinese immigration. At right is the partial passenger list of the “Fortitude”, the first ship to bring Chinese immigrants to Trinidad in 1806.

Investment in Sugar Factories
Between 1870 and 1895, £339,000 is invested by the Colonial Company (later Usine St. Madeleine) in its machinery and transport facilities in Trinidad and British Guiana. To this figure is to be added the original cost of the Trinidad factory, Usine Ste. Madeleine,  £213,000.
One small estate, Palmiste, between 1883 and 1894 spends £52,600 in modernising its factory and transport facilities. These investments reduce the production cost of sugar from £8 to £3.
However, not enough investment in the scientific knowledge about cane cultivation is made into the cane farming community, which by the 1920s supplies 40% of canes to the factories. Houses and buildings fall into disrepair: a huge omission on the supply side of the sugar making process.

The cane cutter by Michel Jean Cazabon. Cazabon, one of the earliest recorders of Trinidad’s visual history, captured what may well be the earliest image of an cane cutter in this water colour rendered in the 1850s or 60s.

Beginning of cane farming
Sir Neville Lubbock, Chairman of the West India Committee and a Director of the New Colonial Company Ltd. (later Usine Ste Madeleine), hits upon the idea of having workers on the sugar estates grow canes on idle lands of the sugar company. In 1882, eight men accept parcels of abandoned lands and become Trinidad’s first cane farmers.

Preparing land for cultivation.

20th Century

Brechin Castle starts
In 1937 the English Company of Tate & Lyle purchases a number of small estates in Central Trinidad and sets up their headquarters at Brechin Castle in Couva. As a large international conglomerate Tate & Lyle soon becomes dominant on the landscape, absorbing most of the smaller sugar factories.

Between 1920 and 1927, over 9,000 Indians are repatriated. The total agricultural population is about 96,000. The development of the oil industry and road building begins to increase pressure on the supply of labour.

Aerial shot of Brechin Castle sugar factory in the 1950s.

From ox-cart to tractor
The 60 hp Caterpillar tractor, imported by Charles Massy since 1924, starts to be deployed in the cane fields for ploughing and grading.
Manure is vital for the fertilisation of cane fields, and sugar companies continue to have large herds of cattle and goats. Additional income from meat and dairy adds to the companies’ bottom line. Mules, horses and donkeys continue to be used for carting and manure. In all, tens of thousands of animals are kept by the sugar companies (in 1955: more than 130,000 animals).

In the 1910s, the Indian water buffalo and the zebu were received from India.

Trade Unionism
The 1930s are years of considerable turbulence in the colony. Workers in sugar and in oil revolt against low wages and poor working conditions in both these industries. The sugar workers are led by Adrian Cola Rienzi (Krishna Deonarine), a young lawyer from San Fernando. In November 1937, the All Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers Trade Union is formed, led by Rienzi. Union representation sees considerable improvement in the lives of the sugar and oil workers. Union leaders succeeding Rienzi include Anthony Geoffroy, Bhadase Maraj, Basdeo Panday and Rudranath Indarsingh.

World War II
During the Second World War a major section of the work-force is siphoned away from sugar to the better-paying US bases at Chaguaramas and Waller Field. This exodus from the plantations creates shortfalls in sugar production and is a serious blow to sugar manufacture. Production picks up once again after the War and Tate & Lyle becomes a major player in the international sugar market.

This map shows the migration of the sugar industry southward. Up to the time of Emancipation in 1838, sugar cultivation is concentrated mainly in Northern Trinidad, from Diego Martin in the North West to the valleys of the Northern Range going East as far as Toco. The second half of the 19th century sees the decline of the sugar industry in Trinidad. The Sugar Duties Acts from 1846 equalizes the tariff on all sugars imported into Britain, which means that cheaper slave-grown sugar from Cuba, Haiti or Brazil can now compete with that produced by Trinidad, Tobago or Jamaica where labour costs are much higher. In other colonies like India labour costs are also much lower than the Caribbean. In addition European nations are producing beet sugar which now becomes a fierce competitor of Caribbean cane sugar. Plantations in Tobago are reduced into closure as are sugar estates in Northern and North Eastern Trinidad, and in Mayaro. Cultivation shifts to the fertile plains of Caroni and Naparima, well serviced by train lines, where it remains until the final closure of the industry in 2003. (Map from C.Y. Shepard, 1929)

Tate & Lyle
During the 1950s Tate & Lyle are able to purchase as big an establishment as Usine Ste. Madeleine, making Tate & Lyle the colony’s and later nation’s largest producer of sugar, molasses, rum and bagasse. In 1966, Tate & Lyle owned the following holdings in Trinidad:
• Caroni Limited (70.59% - Sugar production)
• Caribbean Molasses Company (Trinidad ) Ltd. (Molasses purchase, transport, storage and distribution)
• Unital (Trinidad) Limited (Import and export agents for Caroni Limited, 70.59%)

Graph at left:
Crop season lasts from January to June, Trinidad’s dry season. For the sugar factory, it is important that a steady stream of harvested canes is fed into its machinery. However, Easter always means a big dip in production, and May coincides with the traditional marriage season of Indians! That also impacts on the man hours being devoted to the harvest. (Graph from C.Y. Shepard, 1929)

Rising Nationalism
Indian sugar workers participate
in demonstrations staged
by the trade unions in the 1970s.
The post-war era is a period of heightened nationalism when Trinidadians and Tobagonians seek independence as well as ownership of their resources. Independence comes in 1962 but both sugar and oil remain under foreign control with little sign of changing. This state of affairs is largely responsible for the Black Power uprising of February 1970. At the end of this uprising the government is forced to make changes in the direction of a greater share in the national economy. One result of this change is the government’s purchase of Tate & Lyle’s Caroni Limited holdings headquartered at Brechin Castle in 1975 under the name Caroni (1975) Limited.

Caroni Distillery
The Caroni Distillery is established in 1918. In 1975, it becomes part of the Government Holdings of Caroni (1975) Limited’s rum division called Rum Distillers Limited. In 2001, Government sells its 49% holding to Angostura. A year later, with the impending closure of the sugar industry in Trinidad and Tobago, Caroni Distillery loses its ready source of local molasses and is closed. Today, Angostura remains the only distillery in the country and has to import its molasses for rum production. Like our sugar, it comes mainly from Guyana.

Caroni Distillery

The death of the Sugar Industry
Figures showing how pay rises in the 1970s
contribute to a steady loss in the sugar industry,
eventually contributing to its demise.
As a national company, Caroni (1975) Ltd continues to produce its traditional brands of sugar, rum, molasses and bagasse. In an effort to diversify, new programmes are introduced such as shrimp farming at Orange Grove, livestock rearing at Morne Jaloux and Rio Claro and citrus cultivation at El Reposo and Tableland. But these initiatives do not succeed, mainly because the management structure remains unchanged and decline is the inevitable result. Higher wages in oil continue to attract the best-trained technicians away from the sugar industry, and the newly established Point Lisas Industrial Estate, adjacent to Brechin Castle, contributes to this talent drain.

The sugar industry dies a slow but sure death. In 2003 Caroni (1975) Ltd is closed, thus ending the long history of sugar in Trinidad and Tobago. There are sad consequences of this closure. Some 20,000 workers suddenly are unemployed, leading to social displacement in the plains of Caroni and Naparima. The established way of life of the cane farmers comes to an end and considerable re-adjustment has to be made. Roads and traces in the sugar areas are handed over to the County Councils which are ill-equipped to take on these responsibilities. The many recreation centres which had been maintained by the sugar company fall into disrepair and are, like the factory itself and indeed Sevilla House, vandalised. At the same time some 75,000 acres of sugar lands are made available to the State for its own purposes. A good deal of these lands is later devoted to housing estates.
Thus ends the era of sugar cultivation in the history of Trinidad and Tobago.

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Wednesday 30 May 2018

President’s House, or The Ups and Downs of Trinidad & Tobago’s Official Mansions

With the restoration of some historical buildings in Port-of-Spain underway, it might be useful to give an account of their origins and something of the history behind them. The one that comes immediately to mind is President’s House, or, as it was once called, Government House.

Plan of Port-of-Spain, indicating the Port, or Puntilla, in the area of Besson Street 
and the first three Government Houses in the town as well as some 
other government buildings of Puerto d’Espagna.

Eight Government Houses
It may come as a surprise to some to learn that we have had, beginning from 1592, perhaps eight of these official buildings. 
The first Government House was built in Trinidad by Don Antonio de Berrio y Oruña when he set up San José de Oruña (St. Joseph) as the capital. Like all Spanish towns, it was laid out with a central square, around which were placed the church, the Cabildo Hall or Town Hall, the residence of the Governor, and the prison. 
The church at St. Joseph, today, stands on the spot that was originally selected for it 426 years ago, which may makes it the oldest identifiable plot of land selected by government for the erection of a public building. (The church that stands there today is a newer building on the same location). To the west and in front of the church was the open square, on the north side of which stood Government House.
One hundred and sixty two years later, in 1757, another Spanish Governor, Don Pedro de la Moneda, for want of suitable accommodation at St. Joseph, decided to make the little port town of Port-of-Spain his home and in so doing put into place the moving of the capital from St. Joseph. 
In those days the town, which was really a fishing hamlet, not even yet a village, consisted of only two streets, which are now know as Duncan and Nelson. Nelson Street was called Calle Principe, Main Street, and Duncan Street was called Calle del Infante, Prince Street. At the eastern extremity of this very small place, across the river, was to be found the Governor’s house near to a spring of water called “The Spring of Madame Moncreau”. It was somewhere along the Eastern Main Road, probably in the vicinity of the present-day fly-over.
Ajoupas in the Piarco area in the 1930s. 
This is what the streets of Puerto d’Espagna 
could have looked like in the 1780s.

Early Port-of-Spain
The Spaniards did not have stone buildings, so the Governor’s house would have been built of daub and wattle, that is rods or sticks laced with vines and covered with mud, white-washed, and thatched with a palm leaf called tirite. 
In those days, the port of Port-of-Spain was actually the mouth of the Dry River, and this was where ship’s boats landed passengers and goods. The entire sea front was covered in mangrove, looking like the Caroni bird sanctuary today. 
In 1781, the first church in Port-of-Spain was erected on the site now known as Tamarind Square, right next to the sea, and on the northern side, between Charlotte, George, Nelson and Duncan Streets, were the Artillery Quarters, the Secretariat, the Receiver General and the Treasury. This was the heart of town. In 1783 the population of the entire island stood at 126 Europeans, 295 mixed race ‘free’ people, 300 enslaved Africans, and 2,032 tribal people, making a total population of 2,753. The actual population of Port-of-Spain might have been a few hundred people. 
During this time, almost all the buildings in the hamlet, hardly more than forty or fifty, were ajoupas built of daub and wattle with thatch roofs, with perhaps one or two partially constructed from untrimmed lumber. 
The streets were dirt tracks that ended in either the mangrove or the forest. The area, forested, was characterised by the abundance of large silk cotton trees. It was called by the tribal people “Place of the Silk Cotton Trees”, Conquarabia or Cu-Mucurapo. 
Everyone went to bed—or rather to hammock—early, because with nightfall the place would teem with tens of thousands of crabs and with caimans that came out of the mangrove and ambled freely about, not to mention the very large boa constrictors making sudden and uncomfortable appearances. 
The course of the Saint Ann river swung westward around where Park and Charlotte Streets are, went along Park Street and down Frederick Street, across Woodford Square, then down Chacon Street, thence to the sea. 
The Dry River, mostly dry except for the duration of the rainy season, occupied its present course from Park into Piccadilly Street (which was once known as Arnold Street) to the sea at the first port of Port-of-Spain. The Saint Ann river would be diverted to run into the Dry River with the advent of Don José María Chacón, who arrived as Governor in 1784. 
Because of a Spanish imperative called the Cedula for Population of 1783, there had been an increase in the population, which required new public buildings. One of these was a new Government House, which was complected in 1788. It was situated on the northern side of the Plaza del Marina or King Street near the Artillery Quarters on the south-west corner of Charlotte Street. King Street later became Marine Square, now Independence Square.
With the conquest of Trinidad by the British in 1797, a new government was established. The first British Governor, Colonel Thomas Picton, lived in the old Spanish Government House near the south-west corner of Charlotte Street and King Street, until for a variety of reasons in 1803 a Government House was created at 29 Brunswick Square, now Woodford Square. This would be on the north-eastern corner of Knox Street and Pembroke Street, where the old public library building now stands. 
In 1808 a fire, which started at 12 Frederick Street, swept through the town, destroying almost all of it.

This building was erected after 1808 
on the site of a Government House that was 
used by both Governors Chacon and Picton. 
It was demolished in the 1960s.

“Neither wind- nor rainproof and much decayed”
A new Government House had been selected in 1803 at Belmont Hill, where the Hilton Hotel now stands. It was an estate house belonging to an Irishman named Edward Barry (whose grave is in a little park at the top of Norfolk Street in Belmont), which was a plantation that belonged to him and a gentleman named John Black. 
The ‘new’ Government House was described by Governor Hislop, Picton’s successor as “a hut, neither- nor rainproof, and much decayed.” 
By this time the population of Trinidad stood at 2,361 Europeans, 5,275 mixed race ‘free’ people, 20,464 enslaved Africans and 1,154 tribal people. Making a total population of 29,254.
Sir Ralph Woodford became Governor of the colony in 1813. With great reluctance he continued to live at Belmont Hill, where he found that “there being scarcely a dry spot during heavy rain.” 
In 1818, negotiations were opened with Henri Peschier for a property of over 200 acres at Saint Ann, which was eventually purchased for £9,160 Sterling. The new Government House was completed in August of 1820. The building was situated a little in front of what is now President’s House. It continued in use as the official residence for ten Governors until in 1867 it was destroyed by fire.
Government House on Belmont Hill, middle building. 
Painting by Peter Shim from a contemporary watercolour.

 Government House on the corner of Pembroke & Knox Streets.

The Original Cottage
This was the estate manager’s office and residence from before the sale of the property. It was utilised as the Governor’s residence for nine years, from 1867 to 1876, by four Governors. The well-known travel writer Charles Kingsley wrote his famous book, “At Last—A Christmas in the West Indies” there. It was eventually demolished in 1886. The old stables, now garages with a clock dated 1821, are the last remnants of the original buildings.

The oldest surviving part of the estate, dating from the time of the Peschier house,
its the clock dated 1821

Woodford’s Government House was erected just a 
little in front of where President’s House now stands. 
Drawing by Richard Bridgens.

The original Cottage. Lady Chancellor Road is 
the hillside behind. Painting by Michel-Jean Cazabon.

The Present House
In July of 1876, the foundation stone was laid for a new Government House, which was built on the present site. It was designed by a Mr. Ferguson on what was called the Indian model and built of limestone at a cost £44,630 Sterling. 
Sixteen Governors lived there until it was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1938. Rebuilt and modernised, it served as the residence for the last five British governors until it became the home of the Governor-General of the Federated West Indies on 30th of April 1958, when Lord and Lady Hailes took up residence there. The Federation came to an end on the 31st May 1962. Trinidad and Tobago attained Independence on the 31st August 1962 and the building was declared open as a museum and art gallery by H.R.H Alice, The Princess Royal.
In 1965, Sir Solomon Hochoy was appointed the first Governor-General of Trinidad and Tobago and took up residence in the renovated Governor-General’s House. The renovations cost the government some $650,000. On the 24th September 1976, when Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic, the Governor-General’s House became the residence of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency President Ellis Clarke, our first President, and it is now know as President’s House.

Today's President's House

During the period of the Federation, this small building
on the grounds of Government House,
called the Cottage, was renovated and occupied by
Sir Edward Beetham, the last English Governor in Trinidad. 

Tobago Government House
Tobago, from a western European perspective, possesses a longer and far more dramatic history than its sister island Trinidad. This may easily be recognised in its architecture and the remnants of its plantation economy, as seen by the windmills and water-wheels, which was driven up until the 1830 by African slave labour.
British colonial administration in Tobago began in 1763. The island was divided into seven parishes, and land was sold to prospective sugar planters. African enslaved people were introduced, and thus began the cultivation of sugar, cotton and indigo. In 1764, the first Lieutenant Governor, Alexander Brown, arrived and settled at Fort Granby, near Studley Park. Georgetown, situated in Barbados Bay on the southern coast, became the capital from 1764 to 1789, when it was moved to Scarborough which was considered to be a more healthy place. In the early days, the Governor and his staff lived for two years on board two hulks anchored in Barbados Bay. From 1769, during the British occupation, it is recorded that the home of the Governor was situated at Orange Hill.
In 1802, during the French occupation, the Governor having died of fever, it was suggested that Government House should be moved to a more healthy part of the island, and it was decided to build the new residence at Mount William. The house and lands at Orange Hill were sold at auction, and construction of the new building commenced and was not completed until 1807, at a cost of more than 25,000 pounds.
From 1803 onwards, Tobago was to remain  British. In 1807 Sir William Young arrived and was the first Governor to occupy the new buildings. The original plans were for a two-storied building, but when the post of Governor was reduced to that of Lieutenant-Governor, the House of Assembly built a house of one story instead. The present Government House stands on the same site today having been built and completed in 1828.
In 1958, at the time of the Federation of the West Indies, when Government House in Trinidad became the seat of the Governor-General of the West Indies, Sir Edward Beetham-Beetham, the last English Governor of Trinidad & Tobago, moved over to Government House in Tobago, where extensive repairs had been carried out at a cost of $45,187.

Government House in Tobago has been the residence of Governors and Governors-General for many years, and will now be for the use of the President of the Republic of  Trinidad & Tobago. Many distinguished visitors have occupied or visited it, including Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. Prince Philip, as well as many celebrities too numerous to mention.

1828 Tobago Government House

Tobago Government House today

Street Smart Or, How History Changes Everything

Streets, Roads and Lanes, Alleys, Avenues and Boulevards: they surround us, frame our lives and echo memories of long time days. Their names, and the circumstances of their naming, delineate important chapters in our historical narrative. Like milestones, they mark our journey through time, while allowing us to understand the societal and cultural road travelled.
The early streets in Port-of-Spain are good examples of all the above. By the 1800s, largely because of the Spanish proclamation of the Cedula for Population of 1783, Port-of-Spain had changed from a fishing depot in a mangrove swamp to something of a little town of four or five hundred houses with a population of perhaps three thousand, one third of whom were French and Patois speakers.

Independence Square, formerly Marine Square, looking west. 
To the left is Broadway; the building on the corner became 
The Royal Bank of Canada; on the right is the foot of Frederick Street.

This was the case because in a population of about 29,254, of which there were some 5,275 who, as free citizens, were classified, under the Law, as Free Blacks and People of Colour.Of these, 2,925 spoke French, having come from Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe, with a few from as far away as Haiti, many fleeing the French Revolution of 1789. Others in that category numbered 1,751 mestizos who spoke Spanish; the majority of these may have been locals, but with the down the islands traffic, there may have been many from Down-the-Main as well. There was a small English-speaking cadre of Free Black and Coloured folk of about 599 persons. The European population in the 1800s stood as 2,361, with 1,093 French-speaking, 605, Spanish-speaking and 663 English speakers. There were over 20,000 enslaved Africans who, at first, were brought by force from the other islands by the above-mentioned Europeans and Free Black and mixed-race people, but increasingly came from Africa as the result of the establishment of a plantation economy here, in which French and Patois was the lingua franca.
The Red House was once two buildings, 
joined by an arch which led on to lower Prince Street, 
now named Sackville Street.

Spanish cultural dominance waned with the British conquest of Trinidad in 1797, and with the growing influence of the French and Patois speakers in Port-of-Spain in the 1800s, the street names of the town mirrored this social transition. For example, a street once known as Calle del Infanta by the Spanish became Rue des Trois Chandelles, called that by the French-speaking majority of the town because of the three candles which were lit at the gate of Lodge United Brothers, Les Frères Unis, on meeting nights. The Lodge was first established at the corner of Duncan and upper Prince Street in 1795. Duncan Street was named for a British Admiral, Adam Duncan, who defeated a Dutch fleet in 1797. For us, 221 years later, this may seem remote, even obscure, but as a piece of political propaganda, it was important to the English government in Trinidad, at the time of the Neopoleonic Wars, to send a message to the French citizens of the town of British Naval power. Same for Nelson Street, which was named for Admiral Horatio Nelson of the Battle of Trafalgar fame. That victory actually made Great Britain the ruler of the seas of the world for the next one hundred and fifty years or more. Nelson Street was known by the French and Patois speakers as Rue d’Eglise, because it led to the Catholic Cathedral on the Plaza del Marina, having been named Calle Príncipe by the earlier Spanish inhabitants because it was the main street of the town. George Street was named for King George III by the English, but had been called Calle de San José by the Spanish, and Rue de la Place by the French speakers because the Central Market was situated on that street. The Town’s Spanish street names were the first to be forgotten because of regime change and because hardly any Spanish speakers remained in the town, but the use of French names, although entirely colloquial, would linger into the early 20th century because of the quantity of French and Patois-speaking people living there. They would be eventually be replaced by the official English names. Seeing street names as a historical narrative, one can understand how Trinidad is a product of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.
The residence of the Warners, later the Queen’s Park Hotel, 
and today the BP building.

Some streets were named in the search for common ground between the local political interest of those times, which tended to divide the population between Catholics—the French and Spanish-speaking inhabitants of all backgrounds, who were in majority—and the British Protestants, also of various backgrounds, who were in the minority, but were represented by the colonial power. An example of that is St. Vincent Street, which was named after St. Vincent de Paul. He was a French Roman Catholic priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor. St. Vincent is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church as well as by the Anglican Communion. This was one of the relatively newer streets, running north to south and leading to the St. Vincent Wharf, Customs House, Signal Station and grass market. In so naming it, everyone was pleased.
The original Royal Bank of Canada building.

Knox Street, which runs from Frederick Street to St. Vincent Street, was named after Chief Justice William George Knox, and Hart Street, on the other side of Woodford Square, was named for Daniel Hart. Hart was, during a long career as a Public Servant, Superintendent of Prisons, Inspector of Police, Governor of the Royal Jail, Chief Sanitary Inspector for the Board of Health, and Special Magistrate under the Slavery Abolition Act, 1833, which abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. 
Frederick Street looking south from just below Hart Street.

Charlotte Street was originally named Calle de Santa Ana because it led to the Saint Ann river. It was called by the French settlers in the area Sainte Anne. Many of them had arrived in Trinidad from the Bay of Sainte Anne in Martinique. The British, for political reasons, called it Charlotte Street after the wife of George III, Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Port-of-Spain from the Harbourmaster’s tower, now gone. 
It shows the area reclaimed from the foot of St. Vincent going west, 
where the Twin Towers are now. At right is the 
St. Vincent wharf before it was reclaimed from the sea. 
The building on the corner is the Alston’s building, now ANSA McAL.

In much the same manner Henry Street got its name. Called Calle Herrera by the Spanish authorities in memory of a Chief of Police by that name, it was referred to by the French people of the town as Rue Neuve, meaning New Street. Henry Street came about because that was the name of Prince Henry of England.
Calle de San Carlos, named after King Charles II of Spain, was rechristened Rue des Anglais, Street of the English, by the French citizens of the town—a tongue-in-cheek, or picoung, in memory of how the English sailors had fled when attacked by French republican insurgents during the last days of Spanish rule. The British named it Frederick Street, after Frederick, the Prince of Wales.
Calle de Chacon was named for Governor Chacon, who diverted the course of the Saint Ann river into the Dry River, thus creating Chacon Street. This street was not called by any other name.
The streets that run from east to west in Port-of-Spain echoed, or reinforced, the names of the British King, Queen and Princes that were given to the north-south streets. These are Plaza del Marina, so named by the Spaniards because it bordered the sea. The early English colonists, putting the imperial stamp on the island, renamed it King Street, then Marine Square, and today it is Independence Square. Queen Street was called by the Spanish Calle de San Luis, Prince Street was called Calle Santa Rosa, and Duke Street Calle del Astuvias.
St. Vincent Wharf
Woodford Square was once Brunswick Square, named for the Dukes of Brunswick, allies and relatives of the British Crown. With the First World War and Germany the enemy, it was renamed for Governor Sir Ralph Woodford—the Germans were no longer our friends. However, before that it was described in old city plans as Plaza Projectada, because the Saint Ann’s river once ran through it. It was a marshy, somewhat unhealthy place, and there were plans to drain it. It was also known as Place des Armes, place of weapons, or Place des Ames, place of souls. This, because of a legend that in days gone by, before the Spaniards arrived, tribal worriors, Caribs perhaps, would gather there to fight each other as a demonstration and test of their manhood.
The corner of Chacon Street and Marine Square (today Independence Square,) 
looking north towards Trinity Cathedral.

Abercromby Street was so named in memory of Sir Ralph Abercromby, soldier and administrator, noted for his services during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1796, Grenada, that had been overrun by French republican forces under the command of Julian Fedon, was suddenly attacked and taken by a detachment of the army under his orders. Afterwards, Abercromby secured possession of the settlements of Demerara and Essequibo in South America, and the islands of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Trinidad. He landed his troops in Trinidad at Invaders Bay, close to present-day Movie Towne, and within days the island fell to the British after almost three hundred years of Spanish rule. 
The Transfer Station on the corner of Park Street and Frederick Street. 
This was where you transferred from one tram to another.

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The Development of the City Council and some Events, Port-of-Spain, 1840s-1900s

Port-of-Spain in the latter half of the 19th century, from about the 1840s to the 1900s, was becoming a prosperous town. 
Map of 1837
The business sector was located along the northern and southern sides of Marine Square (today Independence Square) from the foot of Picadilly Street in the east to the St. Vincent Street wharf in the west, with lower Frederick Street partially occupied with retail establishments. 
The colony’s economy was based on agriculture, and its principal exports were cocoa and sugar. There were the expected vicissitudes in the prices of these but, notwithstanding, the export-import businesses thrived. There were dozens of well-established merchant houses. There was the Colonial Bank (ancestor of today’s Republic Bank) ten or twelve steamship agencies, several insurance companies and  many well-appointed hotels. Interestingly, the first school of Port-of-Spain was the Mico Institution. It was one of the 300 “normal” schools established in the Caribbean during the post-Emancipation era. Beginning in 1835 elementary schools were established in the British Colonies in the West Indies, by the Lady Mico Charity. The building is still in existence, on the right hand side of Pembroke Street, just up from Knox Street. The first secondary school was founded in Port-of-Spain in 1836 by the Little Sisters of the Order of St. Joseph de Cluny, St Joseph’s Convent, a school for girls.
The first inland Postal Service came into being in 1851. The Meat Market was on Charlotte St. and the Central Market just behind it on George Street.

The tram on Marine Square crossing Henry Street.

The town had not merely grown since the disastrous fire of 1808, but had actually flourished, as the foundation for its development and management had been put into place in 1840 with an Ordinance for ‘regulating the powers and constitution, and settling the mode of election of the members of the Corporate Body called the ‘Illustrious Cabildo’ of the town of Port-of-Spain, and changing the name thereof to that of the ‘Town Council of Port-of-Spain’. On the 6th June, 1840, the new Council met for the first time.
Modernity was in the air when the first cargo of ice arrived on Boxing Day 1844, and large crowds went to see ice for the first time being delivered to the Ice House on Marine Square. 
Port-of-Spain’s growth also created the opening up of new residential neighbourhoods such as New Town. New homes, large and small, were built on streets named in the memory of past governors Woodford and Picton, and of colonial administrators Charles Warner, Attorney General, and Edward Marli. 
The Port of Port-of-Spain handled some 28,001 hogsheads, 3,157 tierces and 7,65 barrels of sugar amoun ting to 67,542,660 lbs; 10,709 puncheons, of 110 gallons each, and 121 tierces of molasses; 5,008,920 lbs of cocoa; 74,416 lbs of coffee; and also small quantities of cotton and indigo. The total value of these exports was £390,009. Imports amounted to £548,471, while the revenue of the colony was £95,733 and the expenditure £106,316. This was one of our earliest recorded budget deficits. (A tierce is an old measure of capacity equivalent to one third of a pipe, or 42 wine gallons.)
Trinidad’s first trial by jury took place in December of 1844. It was a matter of receiving goods under false pretences–an offence hitherto not punishable under Spanish Law. The jury, after retiring for a few minutes, returned an unanimous verdict of guilty and the guilty party received a sentence of twelve months. 
1845 saw the Cocorite Leper Asylum opened and a petition praying for direct representation of the people in the Legislature was addressed to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Also in that year the first East Indians arrived on the Fatel Rozak. Later that year an earthquake caused the bells of Trinity Church to ring at 12.40 p.m. It was the 6th of September.
On the 1st of October, 1849, the Port-of-Spain Gazette reported that “a considerable crowd composing people of the lowest order assembled in front of the Government Buildings” (today the Red House). They were protesting a clause in the gaol regulations which, among other things, provided that debtors should have their hair cropped close, and wear a prison dress, and assist in gaol work. It soon became apparent that the police could not control the increasingly hostile crowd. The Riot Act was read, the order to fire was given, four of the five muskets were discharged, and four persons fell wounded, two of whom later died. Governor Lord Harris called in the 88th Regiment and a company of the 2nd West India Regiment. With the aid of some six hundred special constables and a volunteer horse patrol of seventy strong, they were soon able to restore order in the town. 
The first system of primary education in Trinidad emerged in 1851 when Lord Harris, having established the Wards system across the island, called on each Warden to open at least one school. The first Ward schools were established in districts around Port-of-Spain. 
The mid-19th century saw some dangerous health threats to the population of Port-of-Spain. In the 1850s the population of Port-of-Spain was 18,501. An outbreak of Asiatic cholera in the months of August to October 1854 affected some 4,200 people or almost 25 percent of the city’s population. The deaths from cholera were 2,112. In the space of nine weeks from the 13th of August to the 27th of October, 57 percent of the infected populace died.

The young ladies of St. Joseph’s Convent circa 1880s.
The convent admitted girls from various backgrounds 
including those from distinguished coloured families 
such as the Philip of Philipine Estate, the Romain, 
Rosseau and Dick families of the Naparimas.

St. Joseph’s Convent circa 1880s was the home 
 the d’Heureaux family of 18 Kent Street. 

The population of the colony in 1853 was estimated at 76,500. The Town Councillors presented a petition to the Governor-in-Council (Lord Harris) praying for a new constitution based on the same principles as those embodied in the English Municipality Corporation Acts. This was granted, and by Ordinance No. 10 of 1853, which provided for the ‘’Regulation of Municipal Corporations in the Island,’’ the name ‘Town Council’ was changed into that of the ‘Borough Council of Port-of-Spain.’ 
The new Council met on 31st August, 1853, with Louis A. A. de Verteuil, M.D., as Port-of-Spain’s first Mayor (De Verteuil Street in Woodbrock is named in his honour). 
Michael Maxwell Philip returned to Trinidad on the 2nd of January 1855 to practice at the local bar, he became the first Mayor of Port-of-Spain who was not of European descent, 1867-1870. He was Solicitor-General, 1871-1888 and acted as Attorney-General in 1873 and in 1885. Maxwell Philip Street in St. Clair is named for him. 
Secondary education for boys commenced in 1859 when the  Queen’s Collegiate School was started, and in 1863 St. Mary’s Collage opened its doors.
Under the auspices of the new Borough Council a lecture on “Electricity and Magnetism”, a novel topic at that time, was delivered by Mr. Humphrey at the Town Hall.  The Race Stand on the Queen’s Park Savannah was built and the Port-of-Spain Water Works inaugurated to bring water to the town from the Maraval Reservoir. A system of sewerage for Port-of-Spain was commenced but not completed, only one district being connected with pipes. 
To deal with perennial flooding of the town during the rainy season the Wharf Extension project was commenced to counteract the heavy silting along the Port-of-Spain seashore. It was completed under the direction of Mr. Sylvester Devenish. Flooding is a problem in Port-of-Spain that somehow has never been solved! 
The fountain in Brunswick (Woodford) Square was presented to the municipality of Port-of-Spain by Gregor Turnbull in March of 1865. At its inauguration, the Creole Band performed under the auspices of Leon D. O’Connor, then Mayor of Port-of-Spain. A street in Woodbrock is named for him. The 1880s saw the City’s carnival celebrations turn riotous resulting in almost all the oil lit street lanterns being broken.
Mr. and Mrs Guppy, of Queen’s Park West going out for a drive. 
Robert Lechmere Guppy sent specimens of this local species
 from Trinidad to the Natural History Museum in London, 
where the fish were named in his honour. 
The little fishes are called “millions” in Trinidad,
and made us famous in the world along with 
Angostura Bitters and the Pitch Lake.

On 18th January, 1899 as the outcome of a long controversy between the Council and the Government, Ordinance No. 1 of 1899 was passed in London abolishing the Borough Council of Port-of-Spain, and substituting it with a new corporation under the name of the ‘’Town Commissioners,” the four members of which were all nominated by the governor, Sir Hubert Jerningham, K.C.M.G. Jerningham Avenue is named in his honour. 
The railway, which first made its appearance in 1846, was in 1876 extended to include Arima, followed by a tram service in Port-of-Spain that made its appearance in 1883. Modernity was in the air, or should I say in the ear as the first telephone rang in the city in 1885.

The original Town Hall building on Knox Street 
was once the home of Don Ramon Garcia LL.B., died 1869, 
father of the Hon. George Garcia, Solicitor-General, Attorney-General, 
Puisne Judge & acting Chief Justice (served from 1849-1874) &
 grandfather of Hon. George Lewis Garcia, Solicitor General, 
Attorney-General (served from 1888-1897). 
It once contained a private chapel.

On 1st of May, 1907, the then three local authorities of Port-of-Spain, viz: The Town Commissioners, the Water Authority and the Sewerage Board, were by the Port-of-Spain Town Board Ordinance 1907, merged into one body known as “The Port-of-Spain Town Board,” also a wholly nominated Corporation. At an Extraordinary Meeting of the Legislature held on 22nd August, 1913, the governor, Sir George Le Hunte laid on the table a dispatch, No. 286 of 29th July 1913, from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, approving of the resolution passed by the Legislature on 25th June previously to the effect that the nominated system be gradually superseded by some measure of election of members by the rate-payers; and the governor then announced the appointment by him of a committee of sixteen members to consider the details of the proposed change in the construction of the Town Board.

By the Port-of-Spain Corporation Ordinance, No. 24 of 1914, (now Chap. 224 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago), Port-of-Spain is constituted a Municipal “City,” and its inhabitants are declared to be a body corporate under the title of The Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Port-of-Spain.”
This group, comprising members of the City Council in the 1930s, 
include at least six ex-mayors of Port-of-Spain: 
Enrique Prada (front row in dark suit. On his left is Audrey Jeffers), 
Garnet McCarthy (front row, third from right, white suit), 
Gaston Johnson (front row, second from right), 
George Cabral (second row, second from left), 
T.P. Achong (second row, third from left), 
Captain Andrew Cipriani (second row, extreme right), 
Victor Gormandy (tall man far right). 
Among others shown here are: 
A.P.T. Ambard, Charles Lastique, Murchison Rigsby, 
Leo Pujadas, H.A. de Freitas, and L.B. Thomas.