Tag Archives: National Trust

More on my old Church – Greyfriars, Port of Spain

from the Trinidad Express

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‘I felt compelled to buy Greyfriars’

By \\\\\ Michelle Loubon

Port of Spain businessman/Natrust Ltd chief executive officer (CEO) Alfred Galy said a team comprising an architect and an engineer will advise him on the future of Greyfriars Church of Scotland, on Frederick Street, Port of Spain, by mid-September. He also said the National Trust should prioritise which buildings it intended to save since it was virtually impossible to save all the dilapidated historical edifices.

Galy also said he felt compelled to purchase Greyfriars Church since he is a patron of the arts, appreciates fine architecture and aesthetics.
Greyfriars shot into the spotlight after the Presbyterian community, historians and conservationists feared the edifice would be destroyed. The Trust issued a statement indicating the building will be listed ‘afforded protected status’. But the process is tedious and requires surveys, valuations and planning.
Interviewed at his Frederick Street office yesterday, Galy, 84, said: “I have an architect and an engineer looking at it. They will get back to me by mid-September. They will advise us on the way forward. I can’t disclose their names right now. In due course, everything will come out.”
Asked about Greyfriars cost, Galy added: “We bought it at market price. It was no deal. I can’t give the exact figures. Anybody who has an idea about real estate would have an idea about the market prices. I am the middle man. I bought it for a company. I can’t say which company. I can’t disclose too much yet.”
Sharing his sentiments on the church, Galy said: “I am not responsible for it. The church is derelict. The congregation left it. There was nobody to pay the stipend which might have gone to the upkeep. Maybe it was because of health and safety issues. Maybe they lost their faith in God. Everybody ran for cover. I know they fixed up St Ann’s Church of Scotland on Charlotte Street real nice. Inside they did a lot of work.”
Galy likened the church to a sick patient.
He said: “It costs to upkeep a sick person. At one point, you might have to pull the plug. The church is derelict. It is very expensive to upkeep a derelict building.”
Asked about his particular interest in Greyfriars, Galy said he has always been a devotee of the arts.
“I commissioned the late sculptor Pat Chu Foon to do a piece for Trinity College. I paid him $15,000. I had a copper designed by Conrad Rogers from Belmont. He is now living at Diego Martin. It is in my office and it features the elements like Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. “
Galy developed a passion for the church. He said: “I used to pass there as a boy on my way to St Mary’s College. I used to hear a lot of singing and music. The hall would be decked out at Christmas time.”
But he noticed a falling away at Greyfriars. Galy said: “About 10 years ago, not an ants.”
Asked if he had ever worshipped there or attended an event, Galy said: “No. I am a Roman Catholic. The site is strategic. It is more than 120 years old.”
Turning his attention to the National Trust, Galy said: “Not all buildings are good for restoration. The Trust has to understand they cannot save everything. Some of the buildings artists have to draw drawings, put the dates and say these buildings were once part of our landscape.”
Galy added: “Queens’ Royal College (QRC) is a beautifully restored building. I know the Anglican Church (Rev Claude Berkley) is struggling with Hayes Court. Restoration is expensive. Stollmeyer’s Castle is there about 35 to 40 years and they are not fixing it. Mille Fleurs is in need of work.”
He said the Port of Spain hospital’s architecture should be salvaged.
“Gut the inside of the building, fix it but keep it. It is a beautiful building,” said Galy.
When contacted yesterday, Dr Rodger Samuel, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, said: “I met with the Trust and the Ministry and the National Trust will be looking into the matter.”
 ‘Derelict’ Greyfriars
Meanwhile, passersby and motorists would have noticed contemporary Greyfriars does not have any window panes, mortar is falling from the blocks and electrical fixtures have been destroyed. While the back gate is closed, the front fence is overgrown with vegetation and the entire building is in dire need of a fresh coat of paint. Pigeons frolic on the rooftop and vagrants sometimes sit outside the entrance begging for alms.

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Greyfriars Church of Scotland – Update

National Trust moves to protect historic Greyfriars Church

By the Multimedia Desk – from the Trinidad Express

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 public’s 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 nation’s 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”.

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