Time Out In Trinidad: Parts I - 23 [Video]

A very interesting series of film clips shot in the 1950s and uploaded by oldtimecalypso. Embedding is not allowed so you can follow the links to the YouTube sources if you are interested. All footage was contributed by Sooty 1312. The film may not be copied without the express written consent of the operator of the YouTube channel.

TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 1 - Piarco Airport & Drive South

"In this nostalgic sequence, a British family arrives in Trinidad in 1955, via New York on a Pan American DC6B. The camera lingers on the beautiful airliner as it lands and taxis to Piarco's quaint wooden terminal building of the 1950s. Note the ground crew unloading baggage and a later shot of the flight crew returning to their cars, the stewardess in her semi military PAA uniform. After loading the car the family begins their drive south to their new home in Penal. Note the practically empty roads! A far cry from today. SOURCE"
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 2 - Los Iros, Morne Diablo, Mayaro
"This sequence shows three of the beaches in South Trinidad as they appeared in the mid 1950s. Beginning with the drive to Los Iros, behind a Shell tanker, our visitors can be eventually seen unloading the trunk of their Opel Kapitan. Note the bottle of Fernandes Rum amongst the "supplies" in the old "Flit" box! Included are shots of a beached jellyfish and water lilies. One of the boys displays a shark's head. While their parents picnic, the children enjoy climbing on the branches of a fallen tree. Note the mounted policeman in the Mayaro sequence." Notice the saga boy and he craft crossing the bridge at 2:00. SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 3 - Navy Base, Stauble's and Kingfisher to St. Mary's Bay
"This is the first time I've seen a picture of the guard house at the U.S. Naval Station at Chaguaramas since 1960! I remember it well as early in the 50s we managed to wreck it when the brakes failed on the family car! The launch, Kingfisher, forms an integral part of my childhood as it was our transport to the Company Island House at St. Mary's Bay on Gasparee. Finding these films evoke bittersweet memories of a childhood long since past. Once, Harold, our boatman, had to be awakened in the middle of the night to return a very sick me to Port of Spain. I will never forget that night. Even though the two blond boys in the film are not my brother and I, they almost could be as they happily play in the same place we did. SOURCE"
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - PT. 4 - San Fernando Fire Brigade in Action
"In this sequence the San Fernando Fire Brigade responds to a fire at a Chinese Laundry. It appears, of course, that the laundry has already burned flat to the ground, which is not surprising as most buildings at that time were of wood construction. Note the crowds running back and forth, real pandemonium, almost on an epic scale! Try to find the old lady in the blue dress with the white polka dots. She looks completely lost. There are also several big bamsies in the crowd! The sequence ends with some shots of the damage caused by the huge fire on Frederick Street in Port of Spain in the late 1950s. SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 5 - Union Park Turf Club and San Fernando
"A horserace at the Union Park Turf Club. Some city shots of San Fernando including the Colonial Hospital, High Street, Woolworth's, Debe and a Hindu Temple."SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 6 - Carnival 1957
"These wonderful 8mm colour home movies capture Trinidad Carnival of over 50 years ago. Note the beautiful art deco Queen's Park Hotel and the unmistakable American influence on the revelers' costumes. At that time, the Chaguaramas Naval Station was still in operation, with thousands of American servicemen stationed there. Look for the Coat of Arms of the Federation of the West Indies and the Anchor Special cigarette head gear! A beautiful troupe of Dakota "Red Indians" dance by among others. The camera work is good and the colour is still relatively stable on this old film that captures a Trinidad that has long since disappeared." SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 7 - Ram Lila in Penal 1958
"Ram Lila (Rama's Play) is a dramatic Hindu folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Ram, ending up in a ten day battle between Lord Ram and Ravan. A tradition that originates from the Indian subcontinent, the play is staged annually in Indian communities across Trinidad to this day. This humble Ram Lila was performed in October of 1958 in Penal. SOURCE"
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 8 - Drive from Siparia to Port of Spain,
"This fairly general collection of shots depicts a drive from Siparia in South Trinidad to Port of Spain along the Princess Margaret Highway and the Churchill - Roosevelt Highway in 1957 or 1958. There are a few stops along the way, notably, the transmitting stations for Radio Guardian and Radio Trinidad and the Moslem Mosque at Curepe. A massive crane passes by slowly at the junction of the two highways and the journey finishes at the Port of Spain docks with the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique's beautiful liner ":Antilles" in port. This shot was taken before the "Antilles" was fitted with her taller funnel. A beautiful liner which sadly met her fate at Mosquito Island in 1971 where she hit a reef, caught fire and broke up, fortunately with no loss of life."SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 9 - Princess Margaret's Visit to Trinidad. 1958
"This 8mm film marks an important passage in Trinidad's history with the arrival of Princess Margaret to open the parliament of the newly founded Federation of the West Indies. It fell apart some two years later. We see her arrival in a magnificent BOAC Bristol Brittania with Piarco done up for the festivities. She meets all the dignitaries and heads of state and inspects the Trinidad Regiment. The Jamaica Regiment makes an appearance as does the Trinidad Police Force. Note that the film is shot from the Control Tower! On a Royal Visit no less! In an early shot you can see British Pathe at work filming the events. HRH leaves in a Daimler semi drop head limousine. Later shots of the Governor's Residence and Red House fill in those visits and the camera returns in force to Piarco as HRH arrives from Tobago on a Vickers Viscount. HRH is presented with a painting from a Trinidad artist and three cheers are given HRH boards theBritannia to carry her to her next destination, British Guiana (Guyana).

Unedited, mute British Pathe film of this event can be seen at:

This Britannia still exists. Photos of it can be found at:
http://www.primeportal.net/hangar/howard_mason/britannia_312_g-aovf/ "
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 10 - Drilling Operations at Apex Oilfields
"This noisy film recounts the old days of drilling for oil in Trinidad's southern oilfields. I'm going to say that this is Apex Oilfields as you can see an ATO (Apex Trinidad Oilfields) lorry delivering bags of cement. However, the original film opens with shots of Shell operations in Point Fortin. The derricks do look Apexian but I cannot be 100 percent sure of the location, although I hardly think Apex would be delivering concrete to a Shell operation. Nonetheless it is a marvelous sequence that clearly shows how wells were drilled "back in the day". The shots may not be in the correct order and the soundtrack is lifted from current films of drilling and may not be accurate. It has been almost 50 years since I witnessed a well being drilled.

The film continues with amazing shots of a Turntable at Forest Reserve. These massive flywheels with eccentric cams fixed at their hubs powered up to 20 pumping jacks at a time through a system of steel cables known as "jerk lines". These lines criss crossed the oilfields and woe betide the unfortunate bush creature that got caught in them.

The pitch lake at La Brea follows. It is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world and pitch and asphalt from here covers most of the roads in North America. At the time this was filmed it was mined by Trinidad Lake Asphalt. Note the Trinidad Automobile Association's sign over the La Brea sign.

The film ends with some shots of the Point Fortin and Pointe a Pierre refineries and some shots of the Texaco fields at Forest Reserve."SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 11 - Life at the T&TEC Power Plant Compound
"This is a lovely, almost idyllic sequence in which the camera captures the simple delights of daily life at the T&TEC (Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission) compound in Penal in the late 1950s. Beautiful shots of the staff bungalows, the reservoir, a pick up game of footy in the backyard, tea next door and mother kissing her two boys goodbye as she sends them off to school leave us in no doubt that this was indeed a special time in this family's life. Both boys attend an unnamed local, fully integrated school and several shots detail the bustle around the school, with some local ladies obviously selling sweets to the students. Later on in the film the older boy's school uniform changes to that worn by boys at Presentation College in San Fernando. The film finishes with some shots of local flowers found at the camp."SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 12 - The Longstaffs at Apex Oilfields
"This very short clip shows one of the families I knew at Apex Oilfields, the Longstaffs. I've slowed the film down to 40% of it's speed as the original clips were very short indeed. What a handsome family they are! I only remember Richard, the boy leaning on the window of the Opel Kapitan. I knew he had an older brother, Eric, but have no memory of him. I do remember Richard's father, Bill, slightly. His Mum, Belle, is truly a beautiful woman and so very British. The clip opens with the older boy at the Point Fortin club pool and continues at Bungalow 14 in Apex, where they lived. Bungalow 14 looked out over No. 1 Dam, which can be seen in the background of one of the shots. Noticeable only if you freeze the frame is Singh, the barber, smoking a cigarette and cutting a lad's hair with a pair of hand powered clippers. Singh was a legend in Apex. Once his cow got loose and got into one of the Camp Senior Staff's gardens. He complained loudly to Singh. Unmoved, Singh threated to "slit he belly if he touch mih cow". Sigh. Only in Trinidad. SOURCE"
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 13 - Maracas Bay and North Coast Road.
"Anyone that's visited Trinidad since the arrival of the Americans in 1941 knows this road and its beautiful scenery very well. From the entrance pillars to the fresh water fountain to the amazing lookout these lovely shots will certainly evoke some bittersweet memories of family life in colonial Trinidad. This road was built by American SeaBees (Construction Battalions) early in WW2 to compensate Trinidadians for the loss of their bathing beaches when the U.S. Naval Station was built at Chaguaramas. Some of these same scenes can be seen in my film Trinidad 1948.

One thing I have never seen before though is the beautiful rainbow captured by the cameraman! SOURCE"
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 14 - Mount Saint Benedict
"Set to some of Lionel Belasco's music this pleasant sequence brings us memories of the Benedictine Monastery at St. Augustine. Almost a self contained city in itself, the Benedictine monks administered a Seminary, a boarding school (The Abbey School), their monastery, a senior's residence, a guest house, a farm, beehives, bakeries and the like. Today it is but a shadow of its former glory, with the boarding school closed and recently, the Seminary closing, sending its few remaining seminarians to Jamaica.

Mt. St. Benedict was a popular destination for day visitors as well and many locals came here to picnic. Note the Indian family relaxing with their lunch just behind their two tone Ford Consul with the wide whitewall tires."SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 15 - Sunday Afternoon around the Savannah
"Port of Spain was not only a quaint West Indian town as many people of the time thought. By the architecture shown in this short it's easy to see that Port of Spain was also a very genteel and cultured capital city with buildings and public services to rival that of any city in the United States or Great Britain. From Queen's Hall to the Victoria Institute Port of Spain boasted a quality of life that is envied today. To reflect that, I've used some classical piano in this sequence. I hope it conveys to the viewer what a delight the Savannah was on a quiet Sunday afternoon. SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 16 - Yacht Club, Goodwood Park, Blue Basin
"Trinidad's Yacht Club is the first feature in this episode with some lovely shots of a family enjoying ice cream on the deck, a boatman starts a mahogany motorboat, a group of Royal Navy officers return to their car and a gentleman shows off his Chris Craft as the RMS Mauretania sails by in the distance. Next we visit Goodwood Park with some shots of some remarkably modern homes. Note the nanny carrying her charge inside through some handsome glass doors. The camera lingers on a local cricket game for a while and the segment ends with some lovely shots of Blue Basin."SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 17 - Shell Camp Club Point Fortin
"Central to expatriate life in the southern oil camps was the Club. Each camp had its own and as Jennifer Franko mentions in her book, each club would advertise its events at other camp clubs across the oil belt. By far the largest were the clubs at Pointe-a-Pierre, Forest Reserve and Point Fortin but the other camps, no matter how small, each had its own and together they provided a vibrant and exciting social life for company employees, with any excuse used to put on another "club event". This sequence details pleasant days around the pool at the Shell Camp Club and what a beautiful place it is! At the beginning, note the wrought iron grille with the initials "UBC" from the early days, before Shell, when the Point Fortin fields were operated by United British Oilfields. There is also a shot of the Forest Reserve Club, which looks much the same today, some 55 years later. Christmas Day, 1957 was spent at the club as well, with the children playing with their toy boats in the pool." SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 18 - Penal Market, Club, Allum's Grocery
"Number 17 in this series takes the viewer to the Shell Camp in Penal around 1957 with some shots of the Club and in what is becoming a regular sight in these films, the trunk of the Opel Kapitan is once again being loaded with booze! Included is a visit to Penal Market. I think these shots are beautiful as they capture an integral part of life in Trinidad in the 1950s - the market. Look at the shots carefully. Our family picks up their greens and we see the boys unloading some melons at their bungalow at the T&TEC Camp. Follows a short trip through Forest Reserve Camp and a stop at Allum's Grocery store where mother does the shopping. I don't remember Allum's but our camp, Apex, had Grell's grocery at the entrance to the field. After the amalgamation of most of the fields, Grell's became HiLo, a very well known grocery chain in Trinidad." SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 19 - Opening Day, Penal Power Plant
"In 1958 construction of the Penal Power Plant was completed. This film contains footage shot on opening day showing the plant and some of the preparations for opening ceremonies. The colony's governor officiated and the Trinidad Police Band provided the music. This short provides a wonderful glimpse of the workings of T&TEC at that time." SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1050s - Pt. 20 - Loading Cane. Erin Dairy. Rural Trinidad
"No. 20 in this series brings a tear to my eye. The lilting love song and the idyllic images of rural Trinidad bring to mind happy memories of a land I left 50 years ago. Beautiful in their simplicity, these scenes tell more than meets the eye about the backbreaking sugar industry in Trinidad. Note the donkey powered crane lifting massive bundles onto waiting railway wagons. Look carefully at the shot of the donkey as it pulls its cart onto the road. Note the hive of activity in the background and the railway crossing. This crossing is the Usine Ste. Madeleine track across the main road just entering Debe from the north.

Continuing on in this episode we visit the Erin Estate, a dairy farm, and we stroll along the byways of a Trinidad that disappeared a long, long time ago." SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 21 - Produce of Trinidad
"Set to the tune of the original "Man Smarter" sung by King Radio, this sequences details some of the produce of Trinidad. It never ceases to amaze me how bountiful Trinidad was. Oil and Gas and Sugar have been covered already and this sequence details some of the lesser products of the colony, like calabash, cocoa, bananas etc. For an island only 60 miles by 40, the number and variety of products exported is truly amazing."SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 22 - San Fernando Hill, PoS Docks and USAF at Piarco.
"A few of these shots may have appeared in earlier sequences where they were not the actual focus at the time. In this clip I've compiled those locations in more detail. I'm sure that viewers in Trinidad will see a very different San Fernando in this film than exists today! At the Port of Spain docks, we view the liner "Antilles" at the wharf and if you look in the foreground you can see several TGR goods wagons waiting to be loaded. The video concludes with two aeroplanes belonging to the United States Air Force landing at Piarco. The calypso is "Seditious Law" by Growling Tiger." SOURCE
TIME OUT IN TRINIDAD - 1950s - Pt. 23 - Farewell to Trinidad
"Sadly, this brings to an end the Time Out in Trinidad series. There will still be a few more videos coming as I cull the three hours of files to find anything I've missed. Also stay tuned for more exciting films as the Camito sails from Port of Spain, through the British West Indies, to Britain.

One cannot adequately describe the Expatriate in the Colonies. They were a migrant group of people from Britain who fanned out across the British Empire to engage in and contribute to her prosperity. Trinidad provided a wonderful life for these families with housing, medical services, provisioning and in some cases, vehicles provided by the companies that hired them. For most, as surely as they arrived, they would eventually leave. Some stayed for many, many years. Some even took up permanent residence. Most, however, returned home at the completion of their contracts.

Remember that these families had built a life for themselves in the colony and many grew very fond of that lovely island called Trinidad. Parting was sweet sorrow for them. More so, their departure also brought sadness, and in some cases, unemployment for the household staff these families hired. In many cases, the servants and yardboys grew very attached to their employers and their departure brought an uncertain future for them. In this film you can see a somewhat lost servant standing as this family bids their farewell to their friends, to T&TEC and to Trinidad.

The two boys in this film, David and Graham, still fondly remember the land where they spent three happy years at T&TEC. David returned to Trinidad in 1988 with his wife and two sons to find an independent Trinidad that bore little or no resemblance to the beautiful colony he once knew.

With its wealth of natural resources, Trinidad has struggled throughout the 1990s and the 2000s to curb its massive crime rate and rampant corruption. The roads in these films bear no resemblance at all to the traffic choked multi-lane motorways that exist today. The railways are gone. Oil production has moved offshore. The sugar industry has long since collapsed. The beautiful countryside cannot be enjoyed by tourists as robberies, murders and kidnappings continue to rise.

With the election of Kamla Persad Bissessar, hope has returned to Trinidad and only the years ahead will tell us how successful her government will be in solving some of Trinidad's problems. Everyone knows that one cannot return to Colonial days. The past is the past. But every Trinidadian living there today deserves a life that includes the peace and security evident in these films." SOURCE
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!