THE historic Greyfriars Church of Scotland, in Port of Spain, reportedly sold recently to a private developer, is in the process of being listed by the National Trust, which will give it legal protection.
Conservationists have reacted with alarm over the news that the church would to demolished, with a social media campaign and appeal to have the State step in.
In a press statement yesterday, the Council of the National Trust "noted the publicís concern regarding the sale of one of our architectural treasures, Greyfriars Church of Scotland located on Frederick Street, Port of Spain".
According to the National Trust: "Prior to its sale the National Trust through its member and technical advisor, the Historical Restoration Unit, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, advised the Town and Country Planning Division as to how this property should be managed as one of our built heritage monuments, in keeping with conservation guidelines. The building is on the Trust inventory and is soon to be listed by law.
The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago is established by law (Act 11 of 1991, amended by 31 of 1999), to oversee the preservation of our built and natural heritage. The major responsibilities of the Trust include the following:-
- Listing and acquiring such heritage property as the Trust deems appropriate;
- Permanently preserving lands that are heritage sites and as far as practicable retaining their natural features and conserving the animal and plant life;
- Preserving, maintaining, repairing and servicing or, arranging for the preservation of heritage property and where such property comprises buildings, augmenting the amenities of such buildings and their surroundings;
- Making provision for the access to and enjoyment of heritage property by the public;
- Encouraging research into heritage property;
- Making the public aware of the importance of our heritage;
- Advising Government on the care of our heritage
The Greyfriars Church of Scotland, is one such heritage property identified on the National Inventory of Cultural and Natural Heritage as an historical site. It is also one of the sites which is in the process of being listed by law. Once listed, in accordance with Section 8 of the National Trust Act (No. 11 of 1991 and Amendment No. 31 of 1999) the property is deemed a heritage property and is entitled to legal protection.
The first minister, Rev. Alexander Kennedy of Greyfriars Secession Church, Glasgow, arrived in Trinidad on 25 January, 1836 to begin a mission to the newly emancipated Africans. At that time, there were in the town of Port of Spain, the Roman Catholic Church (Immaculate Conception), Church of England (Trinity) and a Wesleyan chapel (now Hanover Methodist Church). Rev. Kennedy opened the first place of worship on 25 September, the same year. This building, soon discarded, was on Cambridge Street (formerly, the section of present day St. Vincent Street from Park Street to Oxford Street). The first moves to build a church in Port-of-Spain were in 1837. The building commenced on 10 April, 1837, with the first service being held on 10 January, 1838. It then opened under the historic name of Greyfriars on 25 January.
The National Trust considers it a matter of great significance to protect and preserve this monument of our heritage and wishes to assure the public that it is working assiduously to safeguard our nationís heritage.
In addition, the Trust wishes to urge citizens to be aware of other historical structures in their community which may be added to the National Inventory of Cultural and Natural Heritage.
The Trust encourages all Trinidadians and Tobagonians to join with us in preserving our heritage in any way possible. It is incumbent upon this generation to preserve all aspects of our heritage for the benefit of future generations".