Extended History

Scripted by Mariel Brown


The story of how Queen’s Hall got built is nothing short of inspiring. Both the fact of its construction and its continued existence are testimony to the power of individual dreams and the tenacity to see them through to fruition.

  • Johnstone, Northcote, Festivals and Hangars

    The late 1940s early 50s was, for many in Trinidad, a time of tremendous optimism and hope. The Second World War was over, and slowly but surely, the austerity that was par for the course during the war was fading away. All around the Caribbean, independence movements were gathering momentum, and there was talk of […]

  • A definitive response

    As an example of a concert hall built with a minimum of expense, Northcote told Johnstone about a theatre in a small community in Wales that had utilised, for its main structure, an abandoned airplane hangar. “…When I first arrived at the airport at Port of Spain,”wrote Northcote, “I had observed a number of unused […]

  • The Next Step

    The Next Step Clearly, the 1952 Music Festival provided the proof Government needed to lend its support to a concert hall scheme. Within one month of the festival, the Minister of Education, Roy Joseph, had written to May Johnstone with a concrete offer of government assistance. The letter stated that Government would, “present one of […]

  • Raising Money and Changing Plans

    It is unlikely that Trinidad & Tobago has ever – neither before nor since – seen such an aggressive and nationwide fund-raising drive as was conceived of in 1952 by the Steering Committee for the Theatre Concert Hall. In its “Memorandum on a Cultural Centre for Trinidad”, the Trinidad Music Association was adamant that the […]

  • Inspiring the population

    It seems that May Johnstone was a stickler for procedure and detail. She kept comprehensive lists of all donations, and any proposal for a fund-raising event in the name of the Theatre-Concert Hall had first to be approved by her and the Steering Committee. This would have amounted to reams of paperwork, for hundreds of […]

  • The West Indies Festival of Arts

    The West Indies Festival of Arts was a celebration of Caribbean creative and performing arts. The Crown was continuing to relinquish control over its colonies in the West Indies, and the Festival was an ideal opportunity to show Great Britain that the region was united and optimistic. There were art exhibitions and performances by theatrical, […]

  • The 1960s Onwards

    Throughout the sixties and seventies, Queen’s Hall played a central role in not only the creative and artistic life of the country, but also its civic life – helping to provide a forum and opportunity for dialogue on Trinidad’s developing nationhood and national identity. From its inception, the semi-final round of the Prime Minister’s Best […]

  • The Queen Gets a New Do

    But not everyone was happy with the choice of Gillespie and Steele, when the building’s original architect, Colin Laird, was still very much around. Architectural firms refused to tender on the grounds that Colin Laird’s original designs should not be touched. In an article in the Express, Anthony C Lewis and Associates stated that, “Good […]

Note from Writer

When I was commissioned to write a history of Queen’s Hall, I was slightly skeptical about the possibility of finding anything interesting to write about. Before I began my research, the Hall was just that to me – a performance hall. It has always been a fixture in my life – as a resident of St Anns, I have driven past it more than most; as a little girl I went to many school prize-givings there; I performed there and I attended all sorts of shows. Queen’s Hall having existed for longer than I have been alive, it never really occurred to me that there was a time when Trinidad had no national concert hall; nor did I have any sense of the struggle, determination and perseverance that was required not only to get the hall built, but to keep it open. However, once I started reading the faded, book-worm-eaten documents that have been filed away by various Boards of Queen’s Hall and Concert Hall committees since the 1950s, my complacence dissolved, leaving me eager to read more into the Hall’s history.