Chairman’s Speech for Listing Ceremony

The following is a speech made by the Chairman of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago, Margaret McDowall, which she made at a ceremony on October 30th at Briarend on Sweet Briar Road. The event was held to signal the recommendation by the National Trust to list 30 properties and so offer them protection under the provisions of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago Act. The Minister of Planning and Development, The Honourable Mrs Camille Robinson Regis was present to indicate her approval of the action. This is a very significant move as this is the core objective of the CFC group, safeguarding the country’s heritage.

Good Morning to you all and thank you for coming out to celebrate with us and learn more about this process of listing. Some of you are property owners, others represent owners and of course we have the media here to spread the word because very few persons understand what this is about. Most of you have travelled abroad and taken tours of historic buildings, monuments, estates, parks and other environmental sites and thought that Trinidad and Tobago has heritage sites more impressive than those. Well, we have begun to develop our heritage economy as the Minister explained but we need to have the infrastructure in place to be able to benefit from the heritage assets that abound. One of the processes is Listing of the most significant of these properties – which enables citizens and visitors alike to be able to recognize and celebrate them and assists in the protection of these valuable assets.

First let me give a brief introduction to the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. This organization was formed out of the National Trust Act Chapter 40:53 of 1991 amended 1999 and again in 2015. It has a Council of Eleven members of which six are appointed by the Minister responsible for the National Trust – the Minister of Planning and Development and the other five are elected by the members. Yes, the National Trust is a membership based organization and everyone can join as we have several classes of membership from Junior at only $20.00 per year and Preferred membership which is for now only $50.00 per year to Life Membership and Corporate Membership. In order to achieve the Mandate laid out in the Act, the small staff undertakes Research, Advocacy, Provision of information and Technical Assistance to persons who own Heritage Properties, Operate Heritage, Community and Festival Tours, Lectures and Events, both on land, sea and our own island and has several Exhibitions and a few Publications and local souvenir items in the National Trust shop. There is a website and we are on all the social media platforms.

The Listing Process which we are about today is set out in the Act.

First some Definitions

  • Listing” means the identification, cataloguing and recording of any property of interest;
  • listed property” means listed property of interest – which means any monument and any fossil, place or site of natural beauty or national, historic, scientific or archaeological interest that the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago and the Minister responsible for that organisation agrees has outstanding merit as a heritage asset.
  • monument” means any building, structure or other work of man or nature, whether above or below the surface of the land or the floor of the sea, of national architectural, aesthetic or historic interest.

Most of the properties are being investigated are brought to the attention of the Trust by the citizens and organisations. In addition, a major part of the process includes publication in the Gazette and three daily newspapers twice in the process as well as informing the owners of these assets so that they can have discussions with the Trust before the process is over. The Trust decided to have this event today at the time when the Notices to List are being signed for publication in the Gazette, as an ideal time to highlight the process to the general public and again reach out to the owners of these properties.

Now most of us think of Heritage as Cultural Heritage and as we amend our Act, we will need to get into that discussion. However as I am sure you will agree most monuments, fossils, places and sites of natural beauty are heavily influenced by our rich and varied culture. So while the National Trust focuses on the tangible aspects of heritage, it is very aware of the cultural influences and seek to record them in the dossiers

In particular the Criteria that the National Trust uses for listing buildings are:

  • Individual architectural merit;
  • Historical associations, social and economic;
  • Sociological interest;
  • Technological innovation; association with well-known characters or events;
  • Group value such as examples of town planning or community development.

There are only 13 Listed Properties of Interest at this time and the National Trust cognisant of the major contribution that Heritage can provide both in terms of National Pride and Awareness and the development of a major Heritage Economy determined that it needed to increase the number of sites that the country can recognise. Over sixty sites were initially identified and more have been added to that list. However, the National Trust thought it best to get the first batch out for public awareness and recognition.

The task of listing these 30 properties of interest that are presented today was an arduous one and I applaud the staff of the National Trust for the months of preparation and all those who worked tirelessly in the past week to ensure that this event could come off.

For each property or monument, there is a multipronged process by which it moves from the Heritage Asset Register to becoming a Listed Property of Interest. These stages include:

  • Nomination of Heritage Site and Information Gathering – This is placed on the Heritage Asset Register as soon as it is nominated and is laid on the website for all to see. There are presently 455 sites on the Register.
  • Identification and Inclusion of Heritage Site on Inventory of Properties – Also on the Website
  • Approval by the National Trust Council to commence listing as a Heritage Site
  • Approval by the Honourable Minister to place a Notice of Intention to List in the Gazette. Then the Notice is also placed in three Newspapers.
  • In the meantime the Preparation of Dossier for Heritage Site is underway
  • Presentation and Acceptance of Dossier by the National Trust Council
  • Placing Notice in the Gazette and Informing owner of the Intention to list property as a Heritage Site
  • Logging of Heritage Site on the Register of Heritage Sites
  • and Completion of process where Heritage Sites are Protected Under the Act.

At that time there is an appeal process if persons are concerned but, in most cases, when they discuss with the Trust, they discover that their fears are unfounded and in fact the declaration of the property as a listed property of interest can become a greater asset to the owner as well of course of the community.

The Act spells out what a Dossier must contain

The dossier shall include, but not wholly confined to the following categories of investigation:

  1. historicity;
  2. rareity;
  3. uniqueness;
  4. aesthetics;
  5. patronage;
  6. natural or outstanding beauty;
  7. ecological balance;
  8. artistic excellence;
  9. provenance;
  10. Caribbean patrimony;
  11. scientific attributes;
  12. international repute;
  13. indigenousness to Trinidad and Tobago;

The investigator shall, wherever appropriate—

  1. take measurements;
  2. weigh;
  3. photograph;
  4. sketch;
  5. prepare scaled or free hand drawings;
  6. paint;
  7. survey;
  8. take impressions;
  9. describe; and
  10. do whatever else that may be necessary to create a pictorial or dimensional impression of the property.

Of course not all properties of interest need to be classified the same as others. So the Act has Four Grades for Buildings and Six Grades for other properties of interest. We don’t have examples of all of these grades today but there are quite a variety nevertheless.

  • Grade 1 — property in which there should be no change, nor alteration to its shape or form, nor in or upon any material object, plant or other thing that may deform or deface the property;
  • Grade 2 — property in which material change may be permitted, provided that similarity is maintained in all respects as it original composition, shape and form;
  • Grade 3 — property in which there may be allowed (a) alterations to international non-structural components and roof cladding material; or (b) specified alterations to the internal structure;
  • Grade 4 — property of which one or more of the facades or some specified part or area should be preserved.

In respect to other property, the grades are:

  • Grade A — an object or artifact made by man that is rare or unique or is considered to be a fine crafted example of its kind;
  • Grade B — an area, site or place of natural beauty or repose that would be despoiled if it were to be altered by the introduction or removal of any flora, fauna or work of man;
  • Grade C — a site or place which contains or breeds a particular specie of plant, animal, bird, fish, insect or marine life, that is likely to be despoiled by the introduction or removal of any, or all, or a combination of, the species present, or by the introduction of any new specie;
  • Grade D — a work of man considered to be of outstanding artistic merit or to be indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago or to the region;
  • Grade E — a work of international repute that by circumstance of relation, gift or bequest, belongs or belonged to a citizen or a resident of Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Grade F—an original manuscript, music score or other similar work that was written or composed by a citizen or resident of Trinidad and Tobago or by a person of international repute.

All of the dossiers for the Thirty properties are on display today. Eventually they will all be on or website and they can all be viewed at the Resource Centre at the National Trust’s offices.

The Properties of Interest for which the Notice to the Gazette has been prepared are as follows

  • St. John’s (London) Baptist Church – Grade 1
  • Conquerabia Grade D
  • Holy Trinity Cathedral – Grade 1
  • Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church – Grade 2
  • Trinidad Building and Loan Association Building – Grade 4
  • Old Public Library (POS)- Grade 3
  • Old Fire Station Building (POS) – Grade 3
  • Old Police Headquarters (POS) – Grade 3
  • The Red House – Grade 3
  • Shiva Mandir, (Gasparillo) Grade 1
  • Arima Dial – Grade A
  • Exchange Village Shiv Mandir – Grade 1
  • Petroglyphs, (Caurita Stone)n – Grade A
  • Sarah Morton Dormitory – Grade 3
  • The San Fernando Railway Station Grade 4
  • TGR No. 11 (Train Engine) – Grade A
  • Wild Fowl Trust – Grade C
  • Knollys Tunnel – Grade A
  • Sangre Grande Old Post Office – Grade 2
  • St. Joseph R.C. Church, St. Joseph – Grade 2
  • Laventille Water Trough – Grade A
  • Nelson Island – Grade B
  • 58 Piccadilly Street, Port of Spain – Grade 2
  • The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – Grade 2
  • Briarend (Audrey Jeffers House) Grade 2
  • Main Ridge Forest Reserve – Grade C
  • All Saints’ Anglican Church – Grade 2
  • St. Francis of Assisi R.C. Church – Grade 2
  • Boissiere House – Grade 2
  • St. Vincent Jetty Lighthouse – Grade 1