14th - 19th Centuries
Trinidad, "discovered" by Christopher Columbus in 1498 was to pass under the governance of the Spanish, French and English with full power ceded to the British in the eighteenth century.
On the 15th February, 1844 the Governor, Sir Henry McLeod, laid the foundation stone for a new block of government buildings, on a site on the west side of Brunswick Square (now Woodford Square). The land belonged to a group of eight persons. The architect was Mr. Richard Bridgens, Superintendent..Read More
British House of Commons considered the question of the future of Trinidad and Tobago and decided to reject a request by the resident planters for a bicameral legislature and internal self-government.
THE 1903 FIRE
In 1897, as Trinidad was preparing to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the buildings were given a coat of red paint, and the public promptly referred to them thereafter as the Red House. This direct ancestor of our present Red House was burnt to the ground on the..Read More
The work of rebuilding it began the following year, and the Red House, as we know it today, was erected on the same site. It was opened to the public on the 4th February, 1907, by Governor, Sir H.M. Jackson. The building was designed and built by D. M. Hahn,..Read More
Crown Colony Government
The British decided to impose Crown Colony Government in which a resident Legislative Council under the authority of a Governor, could advise the British Government but had no effective control over the island, since British law reigned.
Members of the single chamber Legislative Council were appointed by the Governor to represent the counties of Trinidad with one "unofficial Member" representing the Ward of Tobago.
The membership of the Legislative Council was a total of 21: 11 - Unofficial and 10 - Official, including the Governor. Tobago is amalgamated permanently with Trinidad
1921 - 1962
A Commission Franchise was established to investigate the preparedness of Trinidad and Tobago for self-government and recommended that a limited franchise of seven (7) members be appointed by the Governor. This lay the foundation for constitutional reform.
The return of Dr. Eric Williams from abroad, heralded a vibrant era of party politics since he was encouraged to form a political party. On September 24, 1956 Dr. Williams' party, the People's National Movement, won 13 of the 24 seats on the Legislative Council. After detailed discussions with the..Read More
A Federation of the West Indian islands was formed in 1958 but when Jamaica withdrew in 1961, Trinidad and Tobago decided that it was time to receive full independence so that it could pursue its own governance.
Until 1961, the legislature was unicameral, but with independence came the recommendation for the creation of a bicameral legislature, comprising a Senate and an elected House of Representatives.
On Friday December 29th, 1961 the House of Representatives and the Senate sat for the first time in the history of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.
Independence talks took place between Trinidad and Tobago and Britain, the result of which was full independence, celebrated on August 31, 1962.
1990 - Present Day
THE 1990 COUP AND AFTER
On Friday July 27, 1990 at 6:05 p.m., armed gunmen stormed the Parliament Chamber where the House of Representatives was in session, taking the then Prime Minister, eight of his Cabinet Ministers and six other Members of Parliament hostage. The Red House suffered gravely from this invasion since the building..Read More
As a temporary measure, sittings of both the Lower and Upper Houses (two each) were held at the Auditorium of the Central Bank, but with the opening of the Fifth Session of the Third Parliament on November 5, 1990, sittings were once again held in the Red House, not at..Read More
With the re-election of the People's National Movement in 1992, the Red House became, once again, the center of controversy when a decision was taken to remove the resident sea serpent atop the building in order to replace it with a dove bearing an olive branch in its beak. The..Read More
A decision was taken to move the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago to the Waterfront Complex, Tower D located on 1A, Wrightson Road to better facilitate the restoration works needed.
Update on Restoration
On March 26, 2013 during initial excavation work undertaken as part of the Restoration of the Red House, a number of skeletal remains, cultural and historical artifacts were found on the site. Subsequently, a composite of material comprising human bones, fragments of animal bones, shells, pottery and other artifacts were..Read More
The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago is bicameral, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Parliament as a whole is charged with certain responsibilities and is given special powers and privileges in order to effectively carry out its functions. Included among the latter are freedom of speech..Read More