The nice Fire Of 1808
Dr. Shaw was considered one of the various Scotsmen who discovered their way to Trinidad in the first years of the nineteenth century. By 1808, he had established himself on decrease Frederick Road, quantity 12, that’s on the japanese side between Queen Street and Independence Square, more to the tip of the block than the center. He had a modest practice and also operated an apothecary store from the place he dispensed medicinal preparations to the expanding township.
Port of Spain had changed too much with the arrival of the French and Free blacks type Grenada and the other French islands from 1783 onwards. Regardless of the upheaval of the British conquest, the old thatch and tapia buildings that clustered around the old Catholic church which was built on what’s now Tamarind Sq.in the general space of Duncan, Nelson and George Streets, had been giving technique to handsome picket buildings, coated in wood shingles.
The French in this period built with wooden. Wood was readily available. Virgin forest of hardwood stretched actually from the shoreline into the close by mountains. The town, as it is now, had been laid out like a grill – ten streets from Edward Road in the west to Duncan Road in the east, and six streets from Marine Sq. to Oxford Street. Perhaps about 4,000 to six,000 folks lived there, masters and slaves, some rich, some poor, an assortment of nationalities, all shared in the rising prosperity of this busy port. Dr. Shaw, it has been reported, came dwelling just a bit of inebriated in consequence of getting a wee drop with some of his pals, and made his way by the light of a flambeaux to the outhouse at the back of number 12. No one knows for certain what occurred subsequent – did he fall asleep on the throne Did he drop the flambeaux, causing a blaze in between the outdated crates and barrels Whatever it might have been, the following factor that occurred was that his store room was ablaze. He had lately acquired portions of sulfur, niter, ether and different rectified spirits and important oils – all this quickly raged with inconceivable violence. The foreday morning breeze coming from the Laventille hills churned the fireplace into an inferno, spreading quickly, leaping the streets not simply from east to west, but from south to north. The inferno caught the town asleep. Folks leaped from windows, fled with nothing but their nightclothes, and in some cases nothing at all. In minutes, the place was aglow, lit up in a macabre light of raging destruction. Stores of gunpowder in varied storerooms exploded. Women with children ran screaming to the waterfront. The men of the city joined in with soldiers of the 37th and the 8th regiments, who were stationed at the barracks where the hospital is now, in a stone island sweatshirt large vain attempt to save the city. The few water pumps they possessed had fallen into neglect, and the varied wells have been quickly emptied. Horses and mules, tethered in stables everywhere in the city, screamed in terror as they were killed, or bolted wildly down the blazing streets.
Nearly all the buildings were destroyed, 12 square blocks in all burnt fully, forty nine blocks partially. 435 houses have been gutted, making 4,500 individuals homeless. The damage exceeded a million pounds sterling!
It was, in truth, Trinidad’s first catastrophe. The town was rebuilt, this time of stone. One can nonetheless see the high limestone walls between the buildings in Port of Spain that had been erected as hearth partitions to prevent the repeat of such a catastrophe.
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