Woodford Square is to become a national heritage site.
At the Port of Spain City Corporation monthly statutory meeting on Friday, mayor Joel Martinez said the decision was made during a private consultation with the National Trust on August 25.
Martinez said, “I think it’s long overdue. Woodford Square is the heartbeat of the city of Port of Spain. It is where many things in the city have started, and everything flows through that square. Let’s be proud of our square, let’s be proud of how we keep it, and let us urge our corporation to maintain it.”
The square was created by and much later named after Sir Ralph James Woodford, the fourth and longest-serving British governor of Trinidad.
Woodford was also responsible for building roads, beautifying the city, assisting with the building of its two cathedrals and acquiring the land for the Savannah, the botanical gardens and the site of what is now President's House. He was opposed to the abolition of slavery
In 2014, the minister of diversity, Rodger Samuel, spoke in Parliament of plans to take a note to the Cabinet to declare the area a heritage district “to stop any heritage buildings in that vicinity in particular from being demolished.”
Before the site officially gets its new label, Martinez said the corporation must carefully look at all plans to restore and maintain the space.
In 2020, two Venezuelans were injured when a tree collapsed and fell on them while they sat on a bench in the square. Martinez closed the square and 13 unsafe trees were identified and cut down.
He further spoke of plans to restore the fountain base at the centre of the square. “We have some stuff to do there. We have a fountain that has not worked for several years. We have to ensure it’s refurbished and restarted.”
In 2019 the corporation approved $71,800 to complete all the necessary work. The fountain is crowned by a statue of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, with her son Eros. The statue was repaired and repainted in 2018.
The installation of a new water pump is a part of additional work needed on the fountain.
Martinez said, “We also have another fountain, which is the meditation fountain: we have to ensure that it is also operating. We also have to ensure that our trees are properly maintained and the lawns and all aspects are maintained. Even the railings have historical value.
"Let us take pride in what we have. Let us preserve it and let us enjoy it and let us prepare it for the next generation so we can continue to show the highlight of our heritage.” The square is currently closed because of the covid19 pandemic to prevent people from congregating there.