History: 1900-1999

The history of Tobago in the 20th century

Rockley Bay looking towards Scarborough

Cocoa was well established on Tobago by 1908 and coconut palms were beginning to replace the sugar cane. The first few telephones were installed at this time and in 1915 the first motor cars arrived on the island. Riots, in sympathy with those in Trinidad, occurred in 1920 and a year later, a minor hurricane hit the island and caused landslides.

In 1925, a new Trinidad and Tobago constitution established seven constituencies, one of which was Tobago. Bishop's High School opened that year and in 1926 a water reservoir was built at the Fort. In 1927, the first Cocoa Fermenting Cooperative was started in Pembroke and in 1931 a Lime Growers' Cooperative was formed. Sugar cane had now been almost totally replaced. The Tobago branch of the 'Band of Mercy', later to become the S.P.C.A., was formed.

There were further riots in Trinidad and Tobago in 1937. When the situation had quieted down, a British warship was sent and scattered leaflets over Tobago from its seaplane. In 1938, a Royal Commission was sent to inquire into conditions in the British West Indies. The Tobago Chamber of Commerce was inaugurated that year.

Scarborough WharfThe Crown Point Airport opened in 1940 and later that year, the Development and Welfare Organization for the British West Indies set up. In 1941, the first community centre in Plymouth was built by voluntary labour. A radar station was built by the U.S.Army near Charlotteville, in 1942, and B.W.I.A. started their first commercial flights to the island. The Crown Point runway was extended in 1943 and, a year later, the first bus company connected all accessible parts of the Island.

The Second Colonial Development and Welfare Act was passed in 1945, raising great hopes in Tobago. Universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1946 and the island’s first nursery school started, in Black Rock, in 1948. Excessive rainfall in 1949 caused severe damage to the northern part of the island. A new Constitution for Trinidad and Tobago was approved in 1950, giving the country more autonomy. Electricity was installed in Scarborough in 1952 and in 1953 the deep water harbour opened on Scarborough waterfront. Tobago and Trinidad resolved to partake in an independent Caribbean Federation, in 1956, and free secondary education was introduced. Construction of the north coast road commenced.

Crown Reef (Coco Reef) HotelTrinidad and Tobago became partners of the West Indian Federation in 1958, retaining their own Governor. In 1960 the ships 'Scarlet Ibis' and 'Bird of Paradise' started regular service to and from Port of Spain. 1962 marked the end of the West Indies Federation. Trinidad and Tobago became an "independent and unitary state" within the British Commonwealth under a Governor-General representing the Queen of England.

The Crown Point Airport was paved in 1962. A year later, Hurricane Flora destroyed many houses, estates and large parts of the rain forest, with a total loss of 17 lives. This was the first disastrous hurricane since 1847.

In 1967 Trinidad and Tobago became partners in the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) and the Caribbean Development Bank. The Championship 18-hole golf course opened at Mt. Irvine in 1969 and extensive housing development started all over the island. Riots, caused by imported Black Power Movement members, disturbed the island's precious peace, in April 1970, but the results were more Crown Reef (Coco Reef) Hoteldamage to morale than physical. The harbour facilities were extended in Scarborough in 1972.

Tobago gained more direct administration of its own local affairs when the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) was created in 1980. The island’s tourism trade was starting to develop and received a major boost when the Crown Point Airport was upgraded to international status, in 1985, with the runway being lengthened and a new terminal building. A new and larger harbour was built in Scarborough at the same time.

Tobago Satellite Map

Enjoy interactive satellite maps of Tobago. If you have Google Earth download the map here. If not, click the map below to view in a browser window.

GBP = $8.68 

   USD = $6.00

EUR =  $7.53 

   CAD = $5.06

  Mid-market rates per XE.com

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Page Updated: 01 Jun 16