Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 30th 2014 Contents 6
Port-of-Spain became a Borough as a result of the
coming into force of Ordinance 10 of 1853, which arose
from recommendations made by Governor Sir Henry
Macleod (1840-1845) and Lord Harris (1846-1854).
Chosen as the first mayor of the Borough of Port-
of-Spain was Louis de Verteuil. All down the years
there had been little conflicts between the central gov-
ernment and the borough council arising out of the
question of rights and powers, and in 1899, in a dispute
over the way the Borough Council was spending its
money, Governor Sir Hubert Jerningham abolished the
THE FIGHT FOR THE RESTORATION.
The ex-borough councilors and numerous sympathiz-
ers set out to fight for the restoration of the Borough
Council. After the destruction of the Red House by fire
in 1903 --- which was ostensibly over a water bill in par-
liament, although it was mainly due to anger over the
abolition of the borough charter --- the battle lines were
clearly drawn. But how could one win a battle of that
sort unless one had the governor on one's side? And
that was exactly what happened. The totally unex-
pected. On May 30, 1904, Sir Henry Jackson, a governor
who immediately identified with the struggle for the
restoration of the borough charter, came to these
shores. Shortly after his arrival he brought the borough
council issue to life by declaring: "You cannot keep an
intelligent community such as the citizens of Port-of-
Spain in leading strings forever."
This encouraged all those who had not rested in
their efforts. Outstanding men like Mzumbo Lazare,
Alfred Richards, Cyrus Prudhomme David and Henry
Alcazar tried valiantly to forge forward, but by far the
toughest opposition to the restoration of the Port-of-
Spain Borough Council came from some of the mem-
bers of the Legislative Council.
A committee was appointed on December 4, 1905,
to study the question of a partly nominated partly
elected borough council. But the committee members
would not hear of such a plan. Then the matter came
up for debate in the Legislative Council. Governor Jack-
son, neutral because of his office, said, "I shall merely
put forward my personal opinion." And his personal
opinion was the following:
• That a full Borough Council be nominated at once.
• That at the end of three years one-third of the
members resign and be replaced by elected mem-
• At the end of the fourth year another third resign to
be replaced by elected members.
• And at the end of the fifth year the final third re-
sign to be replaced by elected members. "At that
stage, with the Borough Council fully elected it
should choose its chairman or mayor."
Thus the governor was proposing a fully elected
borough council in five years. The Officials joined with
the rest to give this proposal a crushing defeat.
However there were two amendments. The first,
moved by George Goodwille and seconded by Cyrus
Prudhomme David, agreed with the governor's sugges-
tion but went even further. It wanted the first third of
the nominated members to resign in one year instead
of three years. This, therefore anticipated a fully
elected borough council in three years. Needless to say
its defeat was humiliating.
The second amendment was by Robert Hender-
son and simply stated: "That a nominated board be ap-
pointed by his Excellency the Governor to administer
the affairs of Port-of-Spain, undertaking the manage-
ment and control of all matters now exercised by the
Town Commissioners, the Water Authority and the
The resolution was overwhelmingly carried by the
House, showing the feeling of the members on the
question of elections and franchise. The friends of the
Restoration were shocked. They and the members of
the Workingmen's Association, formed by Alfred
Richards in 1901, immediately protested to the Secre-
tary of State for the Colonies, calling for the setting
aside of the decision of the Legislative Council. The As-
sociation told the Secretary of State that the town's
charter was "unjustly abolished under the pernicious
rule of Sir Hubert Jerningham." Further, although rec-
ognizing Governor Jackson's sympathy with the fight
for the restoration the Workingmen's Association did
not approve even of his suggestion, describing his six-
year plan as likely to bring in "six years of dissatisfac-
tion and unrest." It called for Restoration without delay.
The Secretary of State, Lord Elgin, was consider-
ing the entire question and he sent a dispatch which
ended: "My decision is, therefore, that there shall be for
two years a Board nominated by the Governor, at the
end of which the matter will be put again before the
The new nominated body, which united the duties
of the Town Commissioners, the Water Authority, and
the Sewerage Board, was called the Town Board, and it
came into operation on May 1, 1907.
The Town Board ran its two-year course more or
less effectively, while the warriors for the Restoration,
neither relaxed nor relented. Men like Alfred Richards,
Mzumbo Lazare and Henry Alcazar were always at the
forefront. The Legislative Council as a whole did its
best to frustrate their efforts, trying to give the impres-
sion that local men, of which the Borough Council was
composed, could not manage complicated affairs in the
manner of the English-oriented Legislative Council.
The tussle continued throughout 1911 and 1912,
and in June 1913, as unexpected as a lightning flash in
the burning dry season, came this resolution from the
Legislative Council. It said, "In the opinion of this Council
it is desirable that from the 1st April, 1914, there shall
be substituted for the Port-of-Spain Town Board a Bor-
ough Council having the powers, duties, and jurisdiction
of the present Board."
The fighters for the Restoration were all stunned.
This resolution was approved by the House and sent to
the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Lord Elgin
gave his approval without delay. The municipal process
for the restoration of the borough council was set in
motion. Matters were soon concluded and the new
Council --- which, by Ordinance, was transformed into a
City Corporation ---this new Council held its first meet-
ing on June 26, 1914.
Arthur Andre Cipriani, known as "Tatoo" to his friends, was undoubt-
edly the most outstanding public man in Trinidad and Tobago during
the first half of the 20th century. He was dubbed the Champion of the
Barefoot Man, because he championed the causes of the poor and of
people needing redress in the sense of an Ombudsman. Cipriani was
one of the originators of the trade union movement.
Continued on page 7
Links Archive June 29th 2014 July 1st 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page