A Day In The Life Of

The History of Sangre Grande

The History of Sangre Grande

Sangre Grande proper as we know it today was not actually Sangre Grande.  The name was actually one that was forced on one of the older villages called Cunapo.

According to the Michael Anthony book “Towns and Villages” it was in the year 1897 with the extension of the railway from Arima that would infinitely affect Sangre Grande and Cunapo.

When the first railway trip rolled into the eastern region in August that year, although the signboard said ‘Sangre Grande Railway Station’, the train had not reached to Sangre Grande, but stopped at Cunapo.

From then, Cunapo did not exist, and the old Sangre Grande died, and Cunapo took life as Sangre Grande.

That railway station has since turned into what is the current PTSC Terminal.

But the name itself Sangre Grande, came after Spanish surveyors charting the island in the 1700s, found that the water of the larger tributary of the Oropouche River was red as blood, giving it the Spanish name, known as Big Blood in English.

The smaller river meanwhile was named Sangre Chiquito, meaning Small Blood, which is a village south east of Sangre Grande.

Sangre Grande now as we know it is a major hub for those trying to head as far east as Toco, to as far southeast as Manzanilla.

But the opening of the train station paved the way for development.

To begin with Aucher Warner, the son of a former Governor, who owned much of Cunapo, decided to sell out most of the land in the new Sangre Grande area which led to a rush to purchase land.

This also led to the establishment of a police station, near to the railway terminus and a post office which still exists today.

However the Warden’s Office which was built in 1909, saw its demise two weeks ago, when the old structure was broken down as part of the National Cleanup Campaign.

Many of the well known roads in the area known as Foster Road and Ojoe Road were named after families who resided in the area at the time.

The railway track that also led to Sangre Grande has also been converted into a road called Railway Road, a route many use to bypass the town itself.

There was also a track that headed south from the railway station, which was only developed after a seam of coal was discovered a mile from the junction, a settlement known as Coalmine, with the road leading as far as Biche and Rio Claro.

But although the extension of the railway brought fruitful development to the eastern region, Sangre Grande was known for its huge cocoa plantations around 1880, with cocoa farmers moving into the area, attracted by the nearby water supply.

Transport was a major challenge then, since the area was approximately 30 miles away from the capital.

But because cocoa planters persisted, the Port of Spain – Arima railway service established in 1876, eventually led to create beginning of the extension to Grande.

By 1930 despite a cocoa depression, Sangre Grande continued to flourish, with estates like El Reposo and Santa Estella thriving.

The Sangre Grande areas and environs have come a far way to having just below 4000 residents in 1946, to over 5000 in 1960, and jumped even further to almost 9000 in 1980.

As late as 1930, an official map that was printed even shows Cunapo on the spot where the official Sangre Grande was born. So, the next time you hear someone refer to Sangre Grande as Cunapo, they may not be totally wrong.

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May 15th, 2017

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