THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 183.
A Report of a Committee of the Council upon the Great Fire.
Source :-Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
24th August, 1809.
Your Committee having taken into most serious
consideration the matters referred to them and having called
on the Commissary of Population for such information as
appeared to them necessary to enable them to meet the
objects of the Honourable Board, have the honour to submit
That it appears to this Committee that the Public Buildings
which were destroyed by the late dreadful fire and which
it will be necessary to rebuild are a Protestant Church, a
Government House for the residence of the Governor, a Gaol,
a Hospital and a Town Hall or Hotel de Ville in which
shall be included all the offices necessary for the different
departments of government and the administration of justice.
That for the erection of such buildings your Committee
are at a loss to estimate with any exactness, the probable
sum necessary for such a purpose but they conceive that
the sum of Fifty Thousand Pounds Sterling would probably
be sufficient for the execution of the whole.
That besides the Public Buildings before mentioned,
it appears that by the same fire some 412 houses fronting
the several streets and 337 attached buildings were consumed.
That of the above mentioned 412 houses, 121 have
already been rebuilt as have also I6o, part of the 337 offices
or attached buildings.
That of the remaining 291 front houses, it appears from
the return of the Alcaldes de Barrio to the Commissary of
Population, that the proprietors of about 50 are destitute
of all means whatsoever for building up the same and it may
be concluded from the delay which has taken place in
beginning to rebuild the remainder that by far the greater
portion though they may possess some means, do not possess
sufficient to complete what they are therefore afraid to begin.
That upon the lowest calculation your Committee are
able to make, the sum of $500 will be necessary on an average
for enabling such persons to rebuild and to complete their
several houses which including the offices and outbuildings,
may be taken at an average of 300 houses and would require
a sum equal to $150,000 equal to about 36,000 sterling.
That the general distress and confusion which followed
this dreadful calamity of the late fire has suspended many
other useful works, the funds for which arising out of property
which was itself destroyed by the same fire or by allotments
of labour which can now be no longer supplied, there are
now no actual immediate means of continuing. Your
Committee in this part of their report mean to allude more
particularly to the completion of the Public Wharf, to the
projected undertaking for a supply of fresh water from the
source at St. Ann's to the Town of Port-of-Spain and the
improvement necessary for the principal road leading from
the Town of Port-of-Spain to that of St. Joseph.
That for the above purposes a sum of 24,00ooo sterling
in addition to what exertion the Colony with such assistance,
might be enabled to make, Your Committee are inclined to
think would be amply sufficient.
That it does not appear to Your Committee that the
means for these expensive though urgent operations, can
by any possible means of taxation, be raised at once within
the Colony and that the same can on!y be obtained by an
application to the liberality and humanity of the parent
That looking to the precedent of munificence to be found
in the assistance given under the pressure of equal calamities
in other Colonies and not doubting that a similar disposition
towards this Colony exists in the breast of the Government
at home, Your Committee recommend an immediate
application to His Majesty humbly representing our
distressful condition and praying for succour to the amount
of 1 io,ooo sterling ; so much thereof as shall be intended
for the benefit of the class of individual sufferers, to be given
as a free gift and for which we presume to cast ourselves
at the feet of Our Gracious Sovereign placing our firm
reliance for favour in his known benevolence ; and the
remainder to be advanced as a loan without interest for the
repayment of the principal of which by degrees, means may
be proposed by the Colony itself.