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History of Georgetown

Georgetown, capital city of Guyana. The country’s chief port, Georgetown lies on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Demerara River. Although the settlement was founded by the British in 1781 and named for George III, it had been largely rebuilt by the French by 1784. The name originates from Fort St. George, which was established at the mouth of the Demerara River as a signal station for the purpose of observing and controlling incoming and outgoing traffic.

Known during the Dutch occupation as Stabroek, it was established as the seat of government of the combined colonies of Essequibo and Demerara in 1784. When the British regained control in 1812, the name was changed back to Georgetown. Many houses and public buildings in the city are constructed of wood, the former generally raised on brick pillars 4–10 feet (1-3 metres) from the ground. As a consequence of great fires in 1945 and 1951, however, most buildings in the business sections were reconstructed of reinforced concrete. The public buildings in the centre of the city include the government offices, City Hall, and cathedrals. 

Georgetown is the center of government administration and as wide range of economic and commercial activity. Most of the streets of Georgetown are laid out in almost perfect rectangles. This makes it fairly easy for even those who are unfamiliar with the City to find their way around.

The large concentration of business and commercial activities are fond downtown. Camp Street bound this area to the east and Water Street on the west with Lamaha Street and Brickdam being the northern and southern extremities respectively. However, there are an increasing number of businesses located further of Camp Street in Regent Street

History of City Hall

Victorian Exuberance in timber” as some have often described it, and by others, as “the most handsome building in Georgetown“. City Hall was designed by Father Ignatius Scoles S.J., a trained architect, after he had entered a competition to design City Hall and won; the prize was $50 dollars. The building is an interpretation in wood, of the masonry construction “fancy dress” style Gothic Revival Architecture, very prevalent during the Victorian era in Great Britain

In 1871, it was proposed that the Hall be built in front of the market (the previous Stabroek Market building) but another site was being sought at Church and Main Street, where the National Library now stands. The site finally chosen was acquired from Mr. George Anderson Forshaw, who was Mayor of Georgetown on a number of occasions. On this site then was a “tumble down coffee logie” used for dances. The periodic finds of old beer bottles from that era lends credence to this legend.

The Foundation stone was laid by governer Sir Henry Turner Irving, on December 23, 1887. The building was opened on July 1, 1889, by Lord Gormanston.

The tower is one of the main attractions of the building. Rising to a fourth floor, there are conical pinnacle at the upper corners. This is decorated by four imaginary corned suspend supports. It is capped by square pyramidal flat-topped spire. This tower was probably intended as a lookout.

A climb to the top via steep ladders is an adventure in itself. Evidence of such a climb is abundant in the many initials and dates carved into the timber at different heights.

The hammer bean roof construction employed is typical of the medieval Gothic buildings in Britain ( e.g Westminster Hall 1394-1406) in London. It gives City Hall, in this case, a ceiling with three arches. The resultant complex of curves in different planes, break up the sound paths and allow for better acoustics in the hall.

The high mahogany covered ceilings, long Demerara windows and shutters combine to, exude an air of freedom and yet of an intensely formal old world elegance. It seduces and subtly draws and transforms you, as part of its hushed classical ambiance. so that suddenly you being to wonder if the sounds you make are too loud, or what you might have done would debase its ambiance or if you are properly dressed for this place. Even the entrance to this third floor offers a drama of its own, by way of the stairway, that on its way up, offers a first glimpse and then a fuller view of the beautiful mahogany ceiling. Ascending further, bring into view completely, the Demerara windows and shutters and eventually the fully classical elegance of the Concert Hall.

List of Mayor’s of Georgetown – 1837 to Present

1837John Croal
1838Hugh Mc Calmont
1839-1840John Perarce
1841Henry Howes
1842H. E Young & Henry Howes
1843John Downie
1844-1846J.F.O. Obermuller
1847R. Haynes
1848-1849S. Sweet Nam
1850Charles Conyers
1851J.F.O. Obermuller
1852-1853William Mc Pherson
1854William Hicks
1855John Morrison
1856-1858Charles Lyness
1859-1861William Holmes
1862-1863J.W Davson
1864William Holmes
18665-1866F.A.R. Winter
1867E.C. Barr
1868J.W. Davson
1869D.V. Abraham
1870-1871Andrew Hunter
1872Michael Bugle
1873-1874Andrew Hunter
1875-1876Alexander Duff
1877-1878R.P. Drysdale
1897-1880G.A. Forshaw
1881R.P. Drysdale
1882-1883G.A. Forshaw
1884-1885R.P. Drysdale
1886-1887G.A. Forshaw
1888-1889James Thompson
1890R.P. Drysdale, James Thompson
1891J.B. Woolford
1892-1893G.A. Forshaw
1894-1895J.B. Woolford
1896Alexander Duncan
1899J.A. Murdeek
1900James Thompson
1991J.A. Murdeek
1902-1903J. Wood Davis
1904-1905E.A.V Abraham
1906-1907M.P. Gonsalves
1908-1909Francis Dias
1910-1911P.W. Brown
1912-1913Francis Dias
1914J.S. Mc Arthur
1915-1916Francis Dias
1917- 1918Hon. Nelson Cannon
1919-1920Hon. E.C. Woolford
1921-1922N. Nascimento
1923Hon. George Drysdale- Bailey
1924Hon. Nelson Cannon
1925-1926Hon.R.E. Brassington
1927Hon. George Drysdale- Bailey
1928-1932Hon. Percy Claude Wight
1933-1938Hon. Joseph Gonsalves
1939-1940Hon. Percy Claude Wight
1941-1942Hon. Claude Vibert Wight
1943-1944Hon. Joseph Gonsalves
1945-1946Hon. Claude Vibert Wight
1947Edward Marciel Gonsalves
1948Edward Marciel Gonsalves
1949-1950Hon. Claude Vibert Wight, O.E.E
1951-1952Rahaman B. Gajraj, B.A.
1953Hon. Claude Vibert Wight, O.E.E.J.P.
1955-1956Lionel A. Luckhoo Q.C., L.P
1957-1958Claude A. Merriman
1959L.F.S Burnham, B.A., L.B., (Hons) M.L.C
1960-1961Lionel A. Luckhoo Q.C., L.P.
1962-1963Claude A. Merriman J.P., M.L.A
1964L.F.S Burnham Q.C., J.P., B.A.
1965-1966Rhaman B. Gajraj C.C.E
1967Mrs. D.V. Bayley, M.B.E.
1968-1969Archibald Codrington
1970-1971John M. Ford
1972-1974Mrs. B Simon
1975Kenneth Shortt
1976Kenneth Shortt and Cecil Persaud J.P.
1977-1980Cecil Persaud J.P.
1981-1985Mavis Benn J.P.
1986Robroy Whyte & Luucille Cox David (Both J.P.)
1987-1989Robert Williams J.P
1990-1994Compton Young J.P.
1994-1995Hamilton Green J.P.
1995-1996Ranwell Jordan J.P.
1996-2015Hamilton Green J.P.
2015-2018Patricia Chase-Green
2018-Pandit Ubraj Narine