Trinidad newspapers were left in ruins by the civil war that followed independence from Spain in 1815, but they’ve been restored to their former glory with the help of an unlikely ally.
Article continues belowThe British left the newspapers, but their impact has been felt far and wide.
Trinidad is home to many of the UK’s best-known British newspapers, including The Observer, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Times Mirror, but it was not until the 1920’s that the country became a thriving publishing center for British writers and artists.
Trinidad’s colonial heritage and unique political climate also helped make it a hub for the development of the country’s literary scene, said Trinidad Times publisher Chris Chappell.
Tornado evacuees, some of whom live in the city, were among the first to come to the aid of the Trinidad Times in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, which battered the Caribbean nation in the early 1900’s.
The newspaper was closed for several months, but when Hurricane Isabel finally passed through the Caribbean on March 12, it was the first newspaper to open its doors in Trinidad since 1813, Chappel said.
The Trinidad Times, which has been open since 1812, is now celebrating its 40th anniversary.
“I have a very high degree of pride in this place,” Chapple said.
“The paper has always stood for the rights of the people.
It has always held a very strong view on the importance of liberty and equality for all.”
Chappell said the paper’s continued publishing helped establish a vibrant literary scene in the Caribbean, which he said has seen some of the most notable names from the continent’s history come and go.
The British-owned Trinidad Times was founded in 1812 and has remained a popular publishing center and home to some of Trinidad’s best known British writers, including writers like Charles Dickens, Fanny Hill and George Orwell, according to Chapples website.
“When we opened the doors to the country in the summer of 1900, the people of Trinidad were still reeling from the Spanish-American War, and there were many things they needed,” Chapel said, adding that the newspaper had a strong reputation for being open to the public.
The paper was once home to thousands of Trinidadians who fled the Spanish Empire after the British came to the island in 1821.
Chappells grandfather, William Chappelle, was born in Trinidad and was the editor of the paper from 1821 until 1827.
Chappells father, who worked for the British in the Philippines, was a well-known figure in the local literary scene and had published several books, including a collection of poetry titled The Poems of the Filipinos.
Chapell’s grandfather, who died in 1917, was also the publisher of the daily newspaper and was one of the first men to call Trinidad home.
“In Trinidad, there are many stories that are not told in the newspapers,” Chopel said of the newspaper.
“It’s not the same as being in London, London is very much about the newspapers.”
In recent years, Chapels grandfather had been making a living writing books about Trinidad and its literary scene.
He passed away in November 2016.
“We have to thank him for his work in helping to keep the Trinidad newspapers open and that is very special,” Chapple said.
“It is a very special part of our heritage.”