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Filming Colonial Lagos

Filming Colonial Lagos is a photo documentary project aimed at revisiting and reminiscing Lagos during the yesteryear. It is also geared at creating awareness for these graceful buildings which have stood the test of time. Lagos during the colonial period is undoubtedly a city that housed extraordinary street-lined colonial structures of Victorian architecture or the Afro-Brazilian architecture, the latter which was brought to the city by returnee slaves from Brazil and Sierra-Leone during the late 19th century who were skilled artisans and which is depicted in the buildings. Nigerians have over the years looked down on these buildings which have been a part the country pre 20th century and which will forever be a part of us because in telling the history of this country, some of these buildings will be mentioned.

Printing press

The Government Printing Press was built in 1894 and lies on the corner of Broad Street and Joseph Street (named after the first Baptist Minister, Joseph Harden (1855)).

Old secretariat

Old scretariat 3

The Old Secretariat was completed in 1895. It is by far the most imposing colonial building in Lagos, built with imported bricks each one of which was stamped with the armorial bearings (‘broad arrow’) of the Quartermaster General of Britain which appeared on all British government property.


Ministry of health (CBAAC)

Ministry of Health building; now the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) built in 1925.

St George's hall

St. George’s Hall, built in 1907 and was opened by then Governor Sir Walter Egerton. It now belongs to the St. George’s 3065 mason’s lodge.


The Brazilian style of architecture was introduced by returnee Afro-Brazilians who first settled in the Campos Square area in the 1830s and were skilled builders. The Brazilian Style is Mediterranean having originated in Portugal and brought to South America by the colonialists. Architecture was not the only influence the Afro-Brazilians (known as Agudas; their quarters were known as Popo Aguda and the main arteries are Massey, Tokunbo and Igbosere Streets which were once lined with two storey and single storey residences and shops beautifully decorated and painted in the Brazilian style). Located on Kakawa Street, Water House was and is still owned by the Da Rocha family – Mr. Da Rocha was arguably the then richest man in Nigeria. In fact, I grew up to my mom asking me in response to my demands if I thought she was as rich as a Da Rocha! The site housed one of the two clean water wells on the island and the Da Rocha’s made even more money selling water to the inhabitants of the island.


Construction of the current building to designs by architect Bagan Benjamin started on 1 November 1924. The foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) on 21 April 1925. It was completed in 1946. It is popularly known as the Cathedral Church of Christ Marina, is the oldest Anglican cathedral in the Church of Nigeria. At various times in its history, the cathedral was the seat of the archbishop of the Province of West Africa, the seat of the archbishop and primate of All Nigeria and the seat of the archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos. It is currently the seat of the Bishop of Lagos.

Colonial residential building, military street Onikan

Colonial residential building at Military Street, Onikan





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Colonial Lagos
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