Historian/writer and curator of the Virtual Museum of T&T Angelo Bissessarsingh has received the Citizens for Conservation’s award for his contribution to history in Trinidad and Tobago. The award was presented by Citizens for Conservationby Geoffrey MacLean, an executive member, during Sunday’s Bocas Lit Fest at the San Fernando Hill.
Bissessarsingh has been researching the history of Trinidad and Tobago for the past 20 years and has thousands of following his research online. A student of Naparima College and the University of the West Indies, he has written widely on his pet subject and has been a contributor to several magazines. He has, through his publications and social media with his Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago, shared his knowledge of Trinidad and Tobago’s complex history. His work has appeared in Caribbean Beat magazine and he has written for Bocas magazine (a periodical aimed at the yachting community) for several years. He was a researcher and contributor to the inaugural publication of the UTT Press, “Golconda, Our Voices Our Lives” which was a well-received example of oral history edited by prize-winning novelist Lawrence Scott. He hs also contributed to entries to the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography published by Oxford University Press. His articles in the Trinidad Guardian number in excess of 140 since 2012, these ranging from our social heritage to our built heritage. He has published Walking with the Ancestors – the Historical Cemeteries of Trinidad – which deals with the colonial-era graveyards, a project long in the making. He is soon to launch his second book, “A Walk Back in Times : Snapshots of the History of Trinidad and Tobago”.
|Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (1832) Independence Square, Port of Spain | Photograph Geoffrey MacLean October 2009|
The first Catholic Church in Port of Spain was built in 1781 by the Spanish Governor Martin de Salaverria on the site that is now known as Tamarind Square.
The English Governor Sir Ralph Woodford decided to build a church better suited to the growing and predominantly Catholic population. Plans were drawn by the Governor's Secretary, Philip Reinagle and the foundation stone was laid on 24 March 1816. The new church was located west of the existing church at the eastern end of what was Marine Square, now Independence Square.
The building was laid out in the shape of a Latin cross and built of blue metal from the Laventille quarries with iron framework from England for the doors and windows.
Doctor James Buckley, Vicar Apostolic to the Holy See arrived in Trinidad in March 1820 and the church became a Cathedral. Completed in 1832, the Cathedral would be consecrated in1849 after all debts had been paid. In 1851 Pope Pius IX declared that the Cathedral was to rank as a Minor Basilica.
On 2 September 1825 the twin towers, originally built of stone, were destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in wood as they are today. The towers contain twelve bells and a clock, added in 1879.
Excerpt Voices in the Street 1977
Olga J. Mavrogordato