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
|1838||Hugh Mc Calmont|
|1842||H. E Young & Henry Howes|
|1848-1849||S. Sweet Nam|
|1852-1853||William Mc Pherson|
|1890||R.P. Drysdale, James Thompson|
|1902-1903||J. Wood Davis|
|1914||J.S. Mc Arthur|
|1917- 1918||Hon. Nelson Cannon|
|1919-1920||Hon. E.C. Woolford|
|1923||Hon. George Drysdale- Bailey|
|1924||Hon. Nelson Cannon|
|1927||Hon. George Drysdale- Bailey|
|1928-1932||Hon. Percy Claude Wight|
|1933-1938||Hon. Joseph Gonsalves|
|1939-1940||Hon. Percy Claude Wight|
|1941-1942||Hon. Claude Vibert Wight|
|1943-1944||Hon. Joseph Gonsalves|
|1945-1946||Hon. Claude Vibert Wight|
|1947||Edward Marciel Gonsalves|
|1948||Edward Marciel Gonsalves|
|1949-1950||Hon. Claude Vibert Wight, O.E.E|
|1951-1952||Rahaman B. Gajraj, B.A.|
|1953||Hon. Claude Vibert Wight, O.E.E.J.P.|
|1955-1956||Lionel A. Luckhoo Q.C., L.P|
|1957-1958||Claude A. Merriman|
|1959||L.F.S Burnham, B.A., L.B., (Hons) M.L.C|
|1960-1961||Lionel A. Luckhoo Q.C., L.P.|
|1962-1963||Claude A. Merriman J.P., M.L.A|
|1964||L.F.S Burnham Q.C., J.P., B.A.|
|1965-1966||Rhaman B. Gajraj C.C.E|
|1967||Mrs. D.V. Bayley, M.B.E.|
|1970-1971||John M. Ford|
|1972-1974||Mrs. B Simon|
|1976||Kenneth Shortt and Cecil Persaud J.P.|
|1977-1980||Cecil Persaud J.P.|
|1981-1985||Mavis Benn J.P.|
|1986||Robroy Whyte & Luucille Cox David (Both J.P.)|
|1987-1989||Robert Williams J.P|
|1990-1994||Compton Young J.P.|
|1994-1995||Hamilton Green J.P.|
|1995-1996||Ranwell Jordan J.P.|
|1996-2015||Hamilton Green J.P.|
|2018-||Pandit Ubraj Narine|