Some scenes from the old British Guiana – now Guyana

Here are some pictures from the old pre-1960 British Guiana that may highlight life in those times.  Today,some of the great architecture is still intact but has to be refurbished and preserved for posterity. This will be the challenge of today’s generations who crave “modernity” at the expense of history and beauty.

— Post #1272

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  • DMITRI ALLICOCK  On April 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGETOWN- CELEBRATING TWO HUNDRED YEARS!
    The capital city of Georgetown will celebrate two hundred years, later 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 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 Essiquibo 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 govern 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 springtides, 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

  • guyaneseonline  On April 8, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Hello Dmitri Allicock:
    Thank you for your comment on this video.
    We found your input regarding Georgetown and its history very illuminating and we decided to make it a Blog entry.
    Thanks again for your interest in this Blog and the many comments you have made on various subjects.
    Kindest regards
    Cyril Bryan

  • DMITRI ALLICOCK  On April 9, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Many thanks to you Cyril for the magnificent and historical job you are doing with this Blog!
    You provide such diverse and inclusive information, which I find absolutely both informative and enjoyable.
    Take for instance the Redlegs/ Scottish Slaves of Barbados or the early East Indians of Trinidad and plus the great Johnny Braff, and so much more.
    Your site has something for everyone. I particularly love the historical aspect of the blog and also the information on so many other current news events.
    I am amazed at the volume of news and information which you are able present daily.
    I just want to say a big thank you for being a “very outstanding son of all Guyana” and hope that your inspiration and great work continues.
    Dmitri

    • guyaneseonline  On April 9, 2012 at 2:58 am

      Many thanks to you as well Dmitri for your encouraging words, and your support by contributing your insights on various blog entries.
      Producing the Blog entries and the newsletter is a lot of work but I do it as my contribution to the Diaspora.
      It is sometimes quite overwhelming when it comes to producing the newsletter, while adding the Blog entries and doing the many daily things that have to be done to sustain myself…. but it gets done. Right now I do everything myself, but I would need to hire some help shortly.
      In the meantime, I hope that you and your family have a joyous Easter holiday,
      Regards
      Cyril

  • Elizabeth  On April 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    this is so beautiful-why we can not get back there the way it was………..

  • glenis A  On April 14, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Very interesting ,I just learned a lot of history of Guyana ..thank You

  • Elizabeth  On April 15, 2012 at 6:16 am

    yep did not know the French was there also

  • elizabeth daniels  On April 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Never knew there were poor whites in Barbados. I guess that I don’t even know my own history because it made me feel special to know that the railway line on the East Coast, was among the first in the world. I am searching for that video and can’t find it.I know I did not delete it because I wanted to share it.

    • Albert  On August 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      “Never knew there were poor whites in Barbados………”.
      Hope I don’t get a Bajun cussing but them Bajun men crazy about them fair skin “poor whites” in Barbados. They probably married them all out.

  • angiedhansarangiedhansar  On August 28, 2014 at 4:06 am

    I wish British Guyana was here …

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