A tribute to Michael Anthony’s best kept secret

Roy Mitchell  -
Roy Mitchell -

Roy Mitchell

Not much is known of Michael Anthony’s outstanding work covering the early history of electricity in TT and the impact of the sector on the country’s overall growth and development.

Citizens interested in tracing the origins of the socio-economic, industrial, commercial and cultural development of TT will give credit to recently deceased unflinching patriot who, in the book entitled “Electricity in Trinidad and Tobago (1895-2006)," gave a vivid account of the early period between 1895 to 1945, the stage prior to the establishment of the TT Electricity Commission in 1946.

Anthony’s account began by tracing the events which led to an electric company appearing on the scene between 1891 and 1895, continued on to the point at which the sector was placed in the hands of the Port of Spain Town Commissioners, narrating what occurred following the departure of Edgar Tripp who was the moving force behind the sector’s introduction. He covered the dispute which developed between the then Governor Sir Alfred Claud Hollis and Port of Spain Mayor Andrew Arthur Cipriani which was resolved with a ruling by the Privy Council, went on to speak about the Government’s plans to engage in islandwide electrification and the events eventually leading to appointment of an Electricity Board which existed between 1935 to 1946.

He covered the attempts by the Port of Spain City Council to purchase the electric concern, how the San Fernando Electric Works came into being and the events which led to the creation of two providers, the Trinidad Electricity Board and the Port of Spain Corporation Electricity Board.

He told of the introduction of the Tram cars and the Trolley buses; public transportation powered by electricity long before the idea of geographically unrestricted electric cars was even conceptualised. He spoke about the scheme to expand the tram and trolley service side by side with the proposed island-wide electrification programme. Anthony’s body of work on this subject is enhanced with collector-item photographs of deep historical significance including portraits of the pioneers, the physical offices and structures, what Port of Spain looked like in those days, the overhead lines which powered the trams and trolleys and the steel rails embedded on the streets of Port of Spain and around the perimeter of the Queen's Park Savannah upon which the trams ran.

The book which was commissioned by the TT Electric Commission has received the imprimatur of that institution it having been embellished with forewords by the then chairman, Devanand Ramlal and general manager, Indarjit Singh. It began by presenting a brief profile of Michael Anthony himself and an introductory statement by the commission’s first public relations manager, Roy Mitchell who in his first paragraph pointed out that ‘It has often been said that the degree of development and rate of growth of a country may best be determined by the pace of development and rate of growth of its electricity supply sector. No empirical evidence of this could have been more clearly cited than in the case of the industrial, commercial, social, economic and cultural development of the people of TT’.

There are some interesting coincidences which make this Michael Anthony work seminal in nature. The book was edited by another distinguished historian, recently deceased Gerard Besson and published by Paria Publishing Co Limited owned and operated by Besson and his family. I submit to be corrected that it may be Michael Anthony’s only co-authored book. Available in hard cover through T&TEC, co-author Roy Mitchell, gave an account of the sector and its impact covering the 60-year period commencing from establishment of T&TEC as the sole supplier of electricity in TT in 1946 to 2006. Released in 2007, publication of the book marked the 60th anniversary of T&TEC and the 111th anniversary of the introduction of electricity in TT. It adds to the enormous debt of gratitude truly owed to historian Michael and his family by the people of TT. My condolences are extended his bereaved family. Thank you Michael. You fought the good fight, you finished the course and you kept the faith. May your soul rest in eternal peace.


"A tribute to Michael Anthony’s best kept secret"

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