Samuels was unbeaten on 106 not out alongside his captain Darren Sammy, on 89, as the tourists closed on a very healthy 304 for six having earlier been reduced to 63 for four in the morning session.
Samuels, with his third Test century, and Sammy, with his third Test half-century, put on a new ground record for the seventh wicket in Tests.
This came after England’s fast bowlers had found the edges of West Indian bats almost at will in the morning but Samuels and Sammy used more advantageous batting conditions in the afternoon to put the home side under pressure.
Sammy had no hesitation in inviting England to field first although with a touch of movement in the air and more off the pitch available to England’s pace attack, they were quickly in the wickets.
Adrian Barath resisted for 12 balls before edging his 13th into the slips off Stuart Broad, where James Anderson instinctively stuck out his left hand and grabbed an excellent catch. Further edges flew through the slip cordon, mainly off the bowling of Anderson, who is a stronger slip fielder than Tim Bresnan, who was his replacement.
Soon an edge travelled to Graeme Swann at second slip and he made no mistake from a loose drive by Darren Bravo (7) as Anderson quickly followed up on the wicket of Kirk Edwards, who was bowled for three having left an inviting gap between bat and pad for Anderson seam one through and onto the stumps.
Meanwhile at the other end, Kieran Powell applied himself well, striking seven fours in a well-made 33 in 49 balls but Anderson as catcher and Broad as bowler combined once again to remove him as the West Indies limped to lunch on 84 for four.
As the sun came out after lunch, the tourists’ prospects brightened as Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels built a 62-run partnership for the fifth wicket, as if carrying on from where they had left off at Lord’s.
Both men slowed scoring to a crawl, placing the emphasis on survival and it took a fine delivery from Swann to prise them apart. A sharply turning off break beat Chanderpaul’s prod and was given out leg before wicket after an equally fine review from Swann and Andrew Strauss. He had made 46 in 86 balls.
Denesh Ramdin was promptly bowled by Tim Bresnan for one but Samuels continued and joined by captain Darren Sammy the away side began to take the initiative as the shadows lengthened. Sammy danced down the track and hit Swann for six and took on the bowling in his usual carefree manner, allowing Samuels to play what is fast becoming his modus operandi.
Sammy fairly raced to 50 in 76 balls and his third Test half-century was warmly applauded by the Trent Bridge crowd. It signified an impressive fightback from the West Indies, who were under pressure early in the day as Strauss set attacking fields.
They had long since disappeared when Samuels nudged Anderson round the corner to reach his third Test century, having just put on a record seventh-wicket partnership in Tests at Trent Bridge with Sammy.
Samuels played with the patience and guile of a man with 22 or perhaps 32 Test centuries behind him rather than the mere two he had going into this game and by doing so, set the platform for Sammy to come and play in a more dashing, aggressive style that brought the West Indies rich reward.
He had faced 225 balls when stumps were drawn to Sammy’s 121.
England lead the series 1-0 following a five-wicket win in the opening game of the three-match series at Lord’s.