A Le100m multipurpose building has been launched during the 46th annual Stewards’ Union celebration of the Portuguese Town Methodist Church at Campbell Street past Sunday.
Launching the project Archie Ayo-Davies, who doubles as senior society steward and president, said “this would be a structure on top of the existing school hall…this existing building may have to be fully strengthened in order to be able to carry the new hall.”
He went on, “it will consist of a hall, a bar area, kitchenette, store severy, four toilets in addition to a conference room, two offices and an additional toilet.”
The president maintained that the project when completed would provide accommodation for social and other events, meetings and possibly arrangement for an internet café which would generate revenue over time to help with the running cost of the society.
Giving a synoptic of the Portuguese Church, he revealed that the area called Portuguese Town Methodist Church was originally known as ‘country village’ and it started as a chapel with a small Wesleyan congregation in 1817, and its foundation stone was laid in 1886.
According to Archie Ayo-Davies, “after the abolition of slavery in 1808, ‘the Shooner Marie Paul’ was the first slave ship captured and condemned at Freetown, those freed, settled in this ‘country village’ designated as Portuguese Town because the greater part of its first inhabitants were people rescued from this Portuguese slave ship.”
He explained to worshippers that, “the whole of Campbell Street stretching up to Pademba Road was called ‘Portogee Ton’” while people in the area got their living from fishing and other trades.
Today, he noted, “there is a strong belief that slaves from Portugal played a dominant role in the life of the Portuguese Town Church”, while by 1858 the congregation of the church were able to build a wooden chapel with stringed roof to replace that of 1817 built of wattle and thatched grass roof.
President Ayo-Davies further informed the congregation that, “in the latter part of 1800, this town was wholly consumed by fire, the chapel and all that it contained got destroyed, members lost their houses and property. It was estimated that about thirty-two houses were reported to be completely burnt.”
The present site at Campbell Street, he disclosed, was purchased in 1859 by the Wesleyan Missionary society, as a stone building was erected 35 feet long by 10 feet wide, being the first to be built on the present site.
The head of the steward union further outlined several renovation work undertaken since 1900 to date, and highlighted the new gallery project that was completed within five months, the new choir cloak room and the refurbishment and interior decoration of the entire vestry with new doors, ceramic titles.
After the brilliancy of the launching, guests and parishioners made pledges to the tune of over Le4 million, while the Rev. Josephus Browne in his homily on the theme ‘hope’ called on the steward union to have hope that there objective would be achieved.