On December 8, the Elevator that could have been called Wilson, or perhaps Messeder, completes 150 years of inauguration, was named Elevador da Conceição and years later (1896) renamed Elevador Lacerda, in reference to its builder, a name consecrated today in Bahia and Brazil.
It was supposed to be an English elevator. In May 1864, the Provincial Government had granted the rights for “the construction of communication lines on the western slope of this city, between the upper city and the lower city, for the transport of cargo and passengers”, to the Englishmen Thomas F. Wilson and Alexandre Messeder. Four years later, in October 1868, the firm Antônio de Lacerda & Cia, after long and persistent management with the concessionaires, acquired the rights and a 25-year privilege for the operation, upon payment of 50 contos de reis to the government. The works were started on 10/17/1869. Months before the elevator was inaugurated, the new concessionaires were dealing in court with the intention of Messrs. Bocayuba & Germano to block the work, claiming privileges from a previous concession.
The Lacerda and Wilson families were close, in business and leisure, rowing enthusiasts and companions in organizing the festivities of Santo Antônio da Barra, one of the most popular in the city. George Wilson, one of the sons of Edward Wilson, founder of the company Wilson Sons, in 1837 – the oldest in Bahia, still in operation – founded, together with Lacerda, the Clube de Regatas Baiano, in 1874.
In the following year, the two friends promoted the first regatta in Bahia, in the context of the aforementioned popular festivals, a large regatta with four races, in Porto da Barra, contemplating the longboats of national or foreign warships, with 6 rowers; the 4-oar boats of merchant ships, national or foreign; the sloops from the pier, with 4 oars and the private boats, or the club members, with 4 oars as well. When this pioneering regatta was held, on 1/6/1875, the Conceição Hydraulic Elevator, which the people called Parafuso, had already been operating for thirteen months.
Jornal da Bahia considered the undertaking the largest and most important work ever carried out in the state, comparing it with the water supply system of Companhia Queimado and its supply network, through the implementation of several fountains, some of which still exist, with those at Terreiro de Jesus and Colina do Bonfim being the best known. Not all Bahians approved the new service, which was a watershed for mobility in Salvador. A sector of the population, Africans and Afro-descendants (freedmen and slaves), the so-called street chair carriers who went up the slopes, carrying pedestrians, was affected, losing its clientele.
The purchase of the concession by Lacerda, which provided for an elevator to transport cargo and passengers, changed priorities. The Wilsons, who operated cargo at the Port of Salvador, envisioned a multiple elevator; Lacerda thought about mobility and made exclusive equipment for passengers. He thought about the practicality of pedestrians taking the Barra tram at Praça Municipal and the Bonfim tram at Praça Cairu. Integration. Next week I’ll tell this story.