When at 5.15 p.m., Sunday January 13th, 1991, the Honourable Finance Minister Mr. Selby Wilson, with Mr. J. B. C. Martin, President of the TBLA, standing next to him, and flanked by the President of the Republic, Mr. Noor N. Hassanali and Mrs. Hassanali, the Honourable Prime Minister Mr. A. N. R. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson, the Very Reverend Father Rawle Douglin and other dignitaries, 'threw the switch' to turn on the illumination of the Association's building, opposite the Cathedral, he was also lighting up a whole panorama of achievements and events in the long, 100-year story of the Trinidad Building and Loan Association.
It was in the year 1890, that three far-sighted and prominent local businessmen got together to found an Association based on the precepts and idea of the British prototype, the first building society which was called a "Terminating Society". These three 'locals' were Mr. J. S. Toppin, Mr. G. Creagh-Creagh and Mr. E. A. Robinson. They saw and realised the great need for a similar institution in Trinidad and Tobago.
The great and noble idea was to pool resources to advance the sum necessary for one member to build his home, and when this loan was repaid, other members were loaned monies in a similar way for the same purpose, until all the members each had their own home. Out of this rough and ready method a more refined but equally effective organization was devised - The Trinidad Building and Loan Association..
In the same year of resolve, 1890, the Trinidad Building and Loan Association was registered under the prevailing Building Societies Ordinance Chap. 111 of 1890, afterwards under Chapter 278 and now Chapter 33: No. 4 Actual operations were commenced on January 14th, 1891, at the office of Mr. J. S. Toppin, situated at No. 4A Almond Walk (now Broadway), Port-of-Spain.
The first Board of Directors comprised the following: Mr. H. E. Rapsey, President; Mr. J. S. Toppin, vice-President; Messrs. Hugo Hoffman; George Muir; W. S. Robertson; J. C. Dade; J. H. Archer; E. A. Robinson (Counsel); A. V. M. Thavenot (Solicitor); and G. Creagh-Creagh, Secretary and Treasurer.
Shares were issued and at first, dues were paid directly to the Colonial Bank for credit to the Association's account. Although the Association commenced business in January 1891, no loans were made until June of that year, as the first four months of its existence were directed towards the accumulation of funds for the purpose of investment.
In 1926, another event of great consequence took place, when Mr. John Fairfax Agard was appointed Secretary of the Association. An account of this extraordinary and dynamic man appears elsewhere in these pages. Suffice it to say, there is no more illustrious a name in all the long story of the TBLA than that of J. F. Agard.
In 1893 The Association moved from Almond Walk to No.1 Marine Square -now Independence Square. In 1899, the TBLA moved once more, this time to No. 52 King Street. It became more and more necessary for the Association to have a permanent home, and with this in view, No. 18 Chacon Street was acquired. In 1932, when the present site at Queen and Chacon Street with its brand new building was ready, the Association moved over, and has been so situated ever since.
Among the many notable Directors over the years were Sir Errol Dos Santos, Francis C. Mathieu, Herman P. Urich, Rupert Alexis, George F. Huggins, Louis H. Blache Fraser, C. B. H. Norman, Lionel Gittens, and Victor Bruce.
Top: The Hon. Finance Minister Mr. Selby Wilson, 'throws the switch' illuminating the Trinidad Building and Loan Association's building at the corner of Queen and Chacon Streets, Port-of-Spain, while Mr. John Martin, President of the TBLA, and President Hassanali, Prime Minister Robinson, The Dean, Mrs. Hassanali and Mrs. Robinson and other dignitaries look on.