Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 24th 2015 Contents B5
May 24, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The 1920s saw Siparia expand as a
commercial centre, especially with
the steep rise in the price of cocoa
which still occupied considerable
acreages around Siparia.
By this time, most of the old Royalist
planters were dead and the only large
cocoa estate was owned by the Hon
Timothy Roodal, a member of the Leg-
islative Council. Avocat and Standard
Village, however, were occupied by
numerous small cocoa farmers who
planted estates of ten--20 acres.
The 1930s saw Siparia emerge into
the age of the cinema. Two movie
houses, the Regent and Plaza Cinema
(originally owned by the Plaza Family),
came into being at this time. The latter
stayed in business until 1986, albeit
under several different owners.
Plaza Cinema was the venue of many
vaudeville shows starring local talent.
Foremost among the performers was
strongman and bodybuilder Phidias
Bissessarsingh who was also known as
"Tarzan" because his feats of strength
were always done wearing just a loin-
cloth made of real jaguar skin.
Jazz maestros Clive and Carlton
Zanda (Alexander) are also long-time
residents of Siparia and grew up here
during the town s heyday. These
accomplished musicians still make con-
tributions to the local music scene.
The years of WWII saw a change in
Siparia society, especially with the influx
of American soldiers to bases in Cedros
and Los Iros. These soldiers would
sometimes visit Siparia and have
a spree with liquor, calypso and
women. A regular taxi service to
San Fernando was established in
this era, with Ford "Woody" wag-
ons being the choice of vehicle.
The building which used to
house the County Medical Office
is known locally as the old army
building because it was an admin-
istrative post for the Allied Forces
during the war. Towards the end
of the war, the St Christopher s
Anglican School was built.
Siparia during the 1950s was a
place of change. In 1955, the Pres-
byterians built the now renowned
Iere High School as a sister college
to the famous Naparima College
of San Fernando. This institution
has produced many accomplished
graduates and prospered exceed-
ingly during the stewardship of
its first principal, the venerable
Rev Cyril Beharry.
The current Prime Minis-
ter, the Hon Kamla Persad-Bisses-
sar, is an alumnus of this institu-
tion. With the formation of the
People s National Movement in
1956, Siparia became a major stop
for the great political "excursions"
of Dr Eric Williams.
Towards the end of the 1950s a
cycling velodrome was built at
Irwin Park. The park was the scene
of popular horse and donkey races
in the 1920s and 30s which
attracted spectators and punters
from around the island. This is
now the site of a modern stadium
due to be completed in 2015.
The year 1954 saw the last of
the Trinidad Government Railway
in Siparia, which ran its last engine
in that year due to the massive
financial losses that were being
sustained. The line was uprooted,
and today only small sections of
the original course exist.
During the 1970s two secondary
schools, Siparia Junior Secondary
and Siparia Senior Secondary
schools were constructed. These
continue to provide meaningful
educational stimulus for the youth
of the district.
Though parang was originally
brought to Trinidad in the mid-
19th century by "cocoa panyol"
immigrants who had come as
labour on the cocoa estates, it did
not really gain widespread credence
until the advent of Daisy Voisin
during the 1960s. Daisy, the undis-
puted "parang queen," (a former
schoolteacher and nurse) lent a
zest and life to the parang tradition
with the assistance of her group
of paranderos, La Divina Pastora.
Though Daisy died in 1991, her
music is still a cornerstone of a
Trini Christmas. A bronze statue
to her memory was erected in
Towards the end of the 20th and
into the 21st century, Siparia con-
tinues on its brave front. Still a
small country town, its heritage
in parang and other endeavours is
still very evident.
Recently the Envirofest com-
mittee, comprising several notables
of the region, has been instrumen-
tal in promoting local culture. The
old landing place of the Amerindi-
ans, Quinam Beach, is now a
bustling weekend hot spot.
The church of La Divina Pastora
is also still very much alive, and
the annual Siparia Fete is an event
that is much looked forward to by
many people throughout T&T.
The multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan
population is the real wealth of
Siparia, where men are still broth-
ers, and peace is still a very real
SIPARIA ---PART FOUR
High Street, Siparia, in 1912.
The old Siparia post office dates from 1915 and is one of the last surviving colonial buildings in the town.
Multi-ethnic population the real wealth
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