Three of the major churches in Tobago have come together to collaborate with the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in restoring five historical buildings in the island.
At two meetings on Thursday it was agreed that restoration work start on the Scarborough Methodist Church, built in 1824; the Ark which served as the residence for the St Joseph RC Parish Priest in Scarborough; the Scotch Kirk Building formerly used as the Scarborough Anglican Girls’ School; the Division of Works Building; and the Customs Building.
The money raised by the churches for their restoration projects will be supplemented by the THA. The Assembly will fund the restoration of the Works and Customs buildings in downtown Scarborough.
Representatives of the three churches and the St Andrew’s Anglican Heritage Trust welcomed the initiative of the Assembly. Each of them told Chief Secretary Orville London that their individual organisation have been trying to undertake the restoration of the buildings for many years.
London told the meeting that the Assembly wanted to take a more collaborative approach to the restoration of historical sites in the island to ensure authenticity and predictability. He said: “Restoration is expensive but we can’t compromise and we also want to get the private sector involved.”
London said the initiative was to enhance the attractiveness of Scarborough and to enhance Scarborough as a tourist attraction. He said the Assembly had made a commitment to beautify Scarborough and had put aside funds for 2012 for this.
Rector’s Warden of the St Andrew’s Anglican Church Director’s Warden Stanley Baird said it was indeed a pleasure to have been invited by the Chief Secretary to attend the meeting. He said he must compliment the Assembly and the Chief Secretary whose initiative it was to do restoration projects in an around Scarborough and across the island.
Baird recalled that he was a former Assemblyman and was indeed happy to see the recent restoration of the Assembly Chamber. “The whole effort of restoring the built heritage would go a long way in terms of expanding our tourism offering and it has come at a time when tourism is down and can do us proud to see our built heritage brought back to some good measure of repair; so that not only history can be branded but also the residence of our island and our visitors can readily access these structures and get to know more about our traditions and our customs.”
Managing Director of Construction Restoration management Services Limited Andrew Lawrence whose company was responsible for the recent restoration of the 125-year-old Assembly Chamber Building described the event as a red letter day and said it would be just what the doctor ordered. He said it was long in coming but it will augur well for the people of Tobago not just in this decade but in decades to come. He added that it was a significant move and complimented the Assembly for realising the importance of putting the critical fillip to initiative these types of works.
He said the Assembly initiative was achievable and can be done at a much lower cost than similar projects in Trinidad.