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WCA residents up in arms with Mayor over George V

By Joan Rampersad Wednesday, July 16 2014

A recent decision by the Mayor of Port-of-Spain, Raymond Tim Kee to change the name of King George V Park, came as a surprise to the residents of St. Clair since they were not consulted.

The Woodbrook Community Association (WCA), through the Ministry of Tourism had erected a marble plaque showing the History of King George V Park, after permission was granted by the then Mayor, Murchison Brown, and Council to erect the plaque.

Residents were now being made aware that the plaque was going to be replaced with the History of Nelson Mandela.

WCA Official, Alima Garcia told Newsday yesterday: “Whilst we may have our views about the changing of the name of the park, I really would like them to leave the History of King George V Park there for our future generations, and perhaps construct another plaque with the history of Nelson Mandela.”Following several trips to the National Archives Library on St Vincent Street, Garcia and others gathered that vital info on King George V Park, after which the marble plaque with the history of King George V Park was erected in 2012.

While calls to Mayor Tim Kee’s office went unanswered, Deputy Mayor, Keron Valentine, when contacted yesterday stated: “I am just as surprised about this move as the Councillor for the area. My burgesses are bombarding me with calls and emails, and I am very concerned.”

History of King George V Park

In 1881 St. Clair became the Government Farm, a livestock and dairy concern which the Government used as a model farm for the development of crops especially cocoa and coffee and the rearing of cattle and oxen. By 1899, the farm was relocated to Valsayn making way for a special housing development on the Western environs of Port-of-Spain. A parcel of land measuring 16 acres, 2 roods and 22 perches (16.4 acres), bounded by Elizabeth Street, Hayes Street, Serpentine Road and St. Clair Avenue was used as a recreation ground. The area became known as Pompeii Savannah.

In 1935, during the celebrations of the Silver Jubilee of King George V, the government decided to honour this noble soul who had visited these shores in January, 1880, at age 15 as the Prince of Wales along with his brother Prince Albert Victor. Thus, the Pompeii Savannah was renamed King George V Park. Sadly, King George V died the following year, in 1936. In 1937, 49 Acres of St. Clair was incorporated into the City of Port-of-Spain. This included the recently renamed King George V Park.In July 1941, during the Second World War, King George V Park was used as a US Army Camp also known as a Cantonment for their Troops.

During this time, a popular radio station called “the Voice of American Armed Forces” was broadcasted from the Park offering news and entertainment.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s King George V Park was a tranquil and serene place where a few cows grazed and young children played on afternoons whilst cricketers as well as footballers developed their skills for competitions.

Before long, King George V Park evolved into a multi-faceted location where not only Sportsmen and Women had their day but also Culture and Religion. The Park was for many years home to Crosby’s Annual Record Launch. It was home to many Religious Crusades and also served as a Car Park for events held at the neighbouring Queen’s Park Oval.

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