GEORGETOWN – Celebrating 200 years on 29 April 2012

We thank Dmitri Allicock  for the following article which he submitted by as a comment to the following video entry on old British Guiana.  We post it here on Guyanese Online as a new entr.  Also read the following story from Kaieteur News that was  published on April 29, 2012.


The capital city of Georgetown will celebrate two hundred years this year. The city of Stabroek was renamed Georgetown on 29 April 1812 in honor of England’s King George III. On 5 May 1812 an ordinance was passed to the effect that the town formerly called Stabroek, with districts extending from La Penitence to the bridges in Kingston and entering upon the road to the military camps, shall be called Georgetown.

The city of Georgetown began as a small town in the 18th century. Originally, the capital of the Demerara-Essequibo colony was located on Borselen Island in the Demerara River under the administration of the Dutch. When the colony was captured by the British in 1781, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Kingston chose the mouth of the Demerara River for the establishment of a town which was situated between Plantations Werk-en-rust and Vlissingen.

It was the French who developed this town and made it their capital city when they captured the colony in 1782. The French called the capital La Nouvelle Ville. When the town was restored to the Dutch in 1784, it was renamed Stabroek after Nicolaas Geelvinck, Lord of Stabroek, and President of the Dutch West India Company. Eventually the town expanded and covered the estates of Vlissingen, La Bourgade and Eve Leary to the North, and Werk-en-rust and La Repentir.

Guyana’s first Capital still exists. The ruins of a brick fort can still be seen on a little island where the Essequibo, Mazaruni and Cuyuni rivers meet. The original fort was a wooden structure built around 1600 by some Dutch traders, who called it Kyk-Over- Al or “see over all”, because it provided a commanding view of the three rivers. The wooden structure was replaced in the 1630’s by a brick structure which served as an administrative center.

Another notable landmark is the Dutch Fort Zeelandia on Fort Island in the Essequibo River. This brick fort still retains its main features and was built in 1743. Kyk-Over-Al was Guyana’s first Capital until it was moved down river to Fort Island in order to have ready access to more Fertile land in 1743.

The birth of Georgetown occurred shortly after the 1803 treaty of Amiens, which awarded the colonies of Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo to Britain from the Dutch. Dutch and English were the primary language then, as English culture and laws slowly took over. The separate three former Dutch colonies of Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice were finally united into one entity called British Guiana in 1831 and were governed from Georgetown.

The history of early Georgetown also witnessed the abolition act of Slavery in 1833 which eventually brought an end of the Trans- Atlantic Slave Trade in Africans and the most repugnant industry known to the history of humanity.

Georgetown was once called the Garden City because of the many trees that grace its avenues. The city’s avenues were created when some of its historical canals were filled in. These unique avenues urban streets are lined with flowering tropical trees, which shed their colorful blossoms at various times of the year on the pedestrian pathways that run between them.

Georgetown despite of the modern developing skyline is still a city of wooden structures, including most of its houses and public buildings. It most famous landmark is the St. Georges Anglican Cathedral, the tallest wooden structure in the world In the 1890s,

Henry Kirke author of “Twenty five years in British Guiana” said:

“Georgetown, called the Venice of the West Indies is a strange place, and one calculated to excite the interest and admiration of everyone. Beneath the level of the sea at spring tides, the city is defended from the waves of the Atlantic by a granite breakwater two miles long, stretching from Fort William Frederick at the mouth of the river Demerara to Plantation Kitty on the East Coast; great granite groins runs out from it to the sea every sixty yards or so, to break the force of the waves; whilst the wall, which is twenty five feet wide at the top, is utilized as a promenade and health resort in the afternoon and evenings. This sea wall was commenced in 1858, and was not completed until 1892. It was built principally by convict labor, and all the granite was brought from the penal settlement on the Massaruni River.” “The streets in Georgetown are all rectangular: the city is intersected in all directions by open canals and drains, which are crossed by innumerable bridges. These, at the time I first went out to the colony, were made of wood, which have since been replaced by handsome structures built of iron and cement. Main Street is certainly one of the prettiest streets I ever saw. About fort yards wide, it is divided up the middle by a wide canal full of the Victoria Regia Lily, the canal and the roads on each side, being shaded by an avenue of saman trees. Handsome houses, painted white, or some bright color, are built on each side of the street, nearly all of which are surrounded by gardens, full of crotons, palms, poinsettias, bougainvilleas, and all sorts of bright-hued plants and flowers; on some of the trees can be seen clusters of cattleyas with their mauve and rose colored flowers, from another an oncidium throws out its racemes of odorous petals, four to five feet in length.”

Two centuries of rich intangible cultural heritage for all Guyana is embodied by Georgetown’s history. Let this historical anniversary be remembered as a time for renewal of entrusted and sacred heritage, which must be proudly passed on to the future generations Understanding and respecting the past are the keys to the future.

Respectfully yours, Dmitri Allicock


Georgetown celebrates its 200th anniversary

APRIL 29, 2012 | FILED UNDER NEWS – By Rabindra Rooplall

–    Contention surrounds  date of anniversary

Today the capital city of Georgetown will be marking a bicentennial. The city’s 200th anniversary was in 1981 so today actually represents two centuries since Georgetown acquired its name. The city began as a small town in the 18th century, when it was called the city    [more]

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  • Jeffrey Massay  On 04/07/2012 at 9:53 pm

    Even now Main street captivates with its simple beauty. Whenever I return, my holiday begins with a walk from Lamaha and Main streets having savoured the view down Main street from Lamaha street. I hope the privaate sector/Govt effort to tidy up the city for the visitors this month continues until we are given back “the Venice of the West Indies”.
    Jeff Massay

  • Abdur Raheim Rahman  On 04/08/2012 at 7:56 pm

    Happy birthday GT…..wishing for continued success and rebuilding throughout the years ahead…

  • Lynette Andrews-Baker  On 04/09/2012 at 9:15 pm

    What a wonder it would be to try and remake the Venice of the West Indies as the basic structure and material still exists. All it takes is a little sweat, inspiration and thoughtfulness.

  • Julian  On 04/14/2012 at 6:14 pm

    I am a proud Guyanese. I visited Georgetown just before Easter 2012 to attend my mother’s 10th memorial celebration with my family. I was shocked to see the condition of some parts of the city that we called the Garden city. The cemetery in particular is a disgrace. The gutters and trenches are filled with everything that should not be there. I remember the days when men, women and children would get down and clear the drains and water ways in the city. This place is the seat of the Government, a place that all world leaders and persons of influence come to visit, frequently I am told that the previous Government was bad for the Country, to this I have my doubts. I am sure the city never looked this bad during those years. Please do something to fix this problem, it is a very sad situation for our city celebrating 200 years.

  • Isabell Braithwaite  On 04/14/2012 at 8:13 pm

    This is no longer a garden city. People are building huge ugly monuments all over the city and call it progress. The place is stink. Garbage in strange places.They are filling up drains with roads. There would be no where for the water to go but flood yards. It is a pity The city engineers don’t seem to work as for the mayor he does no know is ass from his elbow. The pride in Georgetown is gone. What a bunch of misfits running this ship. These diehard politicians have no vision. Come on do something for this once Garden City of the Caribbean.

  • Clementine Marshall  On 04/17/2012 at 2:05 am


  • Robera Ann De Castro  On 04/18/2012 at 6:35 pm

    Congrats Georgetown on your 200th anniversa.ry.! HOWEVER, I would really like to see Georgetown return to its former days when streets were clean and plants and waterways were maintained. I returned to Guyana in 2010 and I was Horrified at the condition of the city. Maybe we should put the prisoners back to hard labour, their contribution to give back to the city

  • Carl Brathwaite  On 04/25/2012 at 10:05 am

    Hopefully this enduring city will recapture its status as a beautiful city. At the moment the only beauty is in the museum behind the cathedral. May wisdom an commonsense infuse the authorities who neglect this treasure bequeathed by the British.

  • Tony Rahim  On 04/25/2012 at 7:29 pm

    Article is much appreciated and it is being shared for all proud Guyanese to stay in touch with our history!

  • Bibi Yousuff  On 04/30/2012 at 3:07 am

    A beautiful town that has been spoilt by the mismanagement and greed. It is my hope and desire that the government do something tangible for this our lovely Georgetown.

  • Sybil  On 04/30/2012 at 11:04 pm

    Now you have celebrated another milestone, I wish you Good Luck and hopefully CHANGE for a new and brighter future. GUYANA, you have surely come a long way and let’s hope that 200 years of struggles can open the eyes and hearts of those in power to stop the crap and get on with the business of nation building.

    Oh! but what has happened to beautiful Guyana ? The drains around the city are clogged with garbage. The city smells, the cemetry is deplorable and our marketplace is in chaos. What has gone wrong with the Mayor and his team of sanitation workers? Oh Boy! how I long to see old Water and Regent Streets , with its beautiful and well organised stores, instead of the chaotic street vendors, who have turned the city into a shoppers’s nightmare.

    However, talk is cheap but action is real. What can we do to perserve our famous Brickdam Cathedral, Hand-in-Hand Insurance Building, our Courts, Big Market and all government buildings and agencies that are reminder of our Colonial past? Let us not allow these buildings to decay and replace with modern structures. As a matter of fact, tourism plays a huge role in Europe and much of what is show to tourists are ruins from a distant past. These sites are preserved and millions of dollars are part of those countries fiscal budgets. So, let us all not only go to Guyana for a “good time” but help to preserve something that made us who we are today-something our children could be proud to share with their children.

  • Susan Sanders  On 05/01/2012 at 12:32 am

    I have visited Georgetown a number of times in the past years. I know It has not seen its potential for decades. I was last there about 6 weeks ago. Thank heavens the overseas friends I had invited to see our beautiful city could not go. Georgetown has never looked so horrible. It was horrific. Filth and rubbish everywhere. I agree with everything Sybil wrote. Does no-one, at any level of Government, care? Do they not drive (with or without open car windows), or walk any streets of the city to see and smell the vile decay? And what about the people themselves who create this awful mess?

    And tell me, which Guyana based newspaper, Government radio or TV Station (who have the resources) put out a special supplement or programme to commemorate Georgetown’s 200th Anniversary?

    A few days after I left Georgetown I was in Miami airport and got chatting with a business lady from Santo Domingo. She had been to Georgetown for the first time, on business, and had left the day before. She said she was “‘traumatised” by her visit and the squalor and filth she witnessed. She considered it “Haiti speaking English”. I was shaken by the emotion transmitted in her words, and started to defend the country. And stopped – as I very sadly realized she was right.

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