Launch of Commemorative Stamp

Launch of Commemorative Stamp

175th Anniversary of the City of Georgetown

Monday, October 29, 2018 @ 11.00 hrs

MINISTER HUGHES’ REMARKS

 

SALUTATIONS

  • Mayor of the Capital city of Georgetown, Her Worship Patricia Chase-Green
  • Deputy Mayor, Akeem Peter
  • Post Master General, Ms. Karen Brown
  • City Councillors
  • Special Invitees
  • Council Staff, friends, all

The launching of commemorative stamps is becoming a habit for us, and we welcome these opportunities to recognize and celebrate the important events in our lives, in our religions, our communities, our cultures, and especially the history of this great nation. Two Fridays ago the Guyana Post Office Corporation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unveiled a special commemorative stamp to observe 50 years of strong bilateral and diplomatic relations with our neighbor, Brazil.

Of course, that stamp was produced in limited quantities which, in the long term, will add tremendous value to it for collectors both at home and abroad. GPOC in recent years also produced limited-edition stamps to commemorate the 176th anniversary of Victoria Village on the East Coast of Demerara, and the 100th birth anniversary of one of Guyana’s founding fathers, Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan, among others.

We know that a Silver anniversary is 25 years; a Golden anniversary is 50 years, and a Centennial is 100 years, but what do we call this 175th anniversary? It is a demi-semi-sept-centennial! Literally, that is one-half (demi-), plus one-half (semi-), plus seven (sept-), plus 100 years (centennial) = a demi-semi-sept-centennial!

City Hall has hosted several activities recently to mark this great milestone – Georgetown’s 175th birthday as the commercial and financial center of Guyana; the seat of Government; and at the last population census in 2016, the home of approximately two hundred thousand, five hundred (200,500) residents.

Allow me now to give you a brief glimpse back in time. The city of Georgetown began as a small town in the 18th Century, i.e. in the early to mid 1700’s. That was the period when the French, the Dutch, the Spanish and the British fought among themselves for possession of newly discovered territories in the West Indies, in South America, in East Asia, and even Australia. Guyana’s boundaries were not officially demarcated at that time. That was accomplished in 1899, no matter what Venezuela says.

This territory had separate colonies here, and the Demerara-Essequibo colony was first owned by the Dutch. When the colony was captured by the British in 1781, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Kingston chose the mouth of the Demerara River to establishment a town with boundaries between Plantation Werk-en-Rust and Plantation Vlissengen.

It was the French who made it a capital city when they captured it from Colonel Robert Kingston in 1782, just one year after he won the land in a battle for Britain. The Dutch got it back 2 years later and re-named it Stabroek after Nicolaas Geelvinck, Lord of Stabroek, and he was President of the Dutch West India shipping Company.

Over time, the boundaries of the capital city expanded to include Eve Leary in the North, and Le Repentir in the South.

The town was renamed Georgetown on 29 April, 1812 in honour of King George III of England. Today we have a City Council but in the 19th Century, the governing body of Georgetown was a Board of Police with members selected by the Governor and the Court of Policy. The Commissary of Police (today it is the Commissioner of Police) did not have a role on the Board of Police. The Board of Police was eventually abolished and an ordinance was passed (presumably by the Governor) to establish a Mayor and Town Council.

Georgetown was officially recognised as a City on 24 August, 1842 during the reign of Queen Victoria. She was the granddaughter of King George after whom the city was named.

Origins of names

You would notice that the names of the city’s wards and streets reflect the past presence of the Dutch, the French and the English who were the administrators of the town at different periods, e.g. Ruimveldt which is a Dutch word.

Cummingsburg was originally named Plantation La Bourgade by its first owner, Frenchman Jacques Salignac (pronounced Zhauck Sa-leen-ni-ack). Then came the Scotsman Thomas Cumming from whom its current name derives. Carmichael Street was named after Governor Hugh Lyle Carmichael who only served for one year from 1812 until his death in 1813. His remains are buried in the Officers’ Cemetery at Eve Leary.

Now we come to Water Street, so called because it ran alongside the river and it was the original river dam. At that time, High Street was the thoroughfare that linked the East Bank to the East Coast of Demerara but today, Sheriff St. or Nelson Mandela Avenue serves that purpose. The part of High Street that runs through Cummingsburg was (and still is) called Main Street.

Camp Street got its name because it was the road leading to the military camp or garrison situated at the northern end of the city at Kingston which was, of course, named after King George. Eve Leary was the name of either the wife or daughter of the owner of the Plantation. So now we understand why we have Parade Street, Barrack Street and Fort Street. They were all roads inside the fort built in Kingston to defend the city against pirates, the Dutch and French invaders.

CITY EXPANSION

Since its beginnings 175 years ago, the boundaries of the city of Georgetown have expanded on three of four boundaries. The fourth boundary is the Demerara River. Greater Georgetown was added with new wards laid out in a similar box pattern. These included Bel Air Park, Gardens and Springs; Lamaha Gardens and Subryanville; Turkeyen, Liliendaal, and Ogle.

South Georgetown incorporated communities to the east and south of Werk-en-Rust which included the Ruimveldt wards, Roxanne Burnham Gardens, Albouystown, Houston and Agricola.

The Garden City

This city used to be called “The Garden City of the Caribbean”, and it was glorified by tourists and our Caribbean neighbours because of its neatness; its cleanliness; the wide canals; double carriage-ways, and brightly flowering trees on nicely landscaped parapets. Those canals were built about 3 centuries ago by the Dutch to drain rainfall off the land, but several of them were filled in during the last Century to function as avenues between double carriageways like Waterloo St. and Camp St.

I have found out that much of the Tourism literature produced all over the world still list the Stabroek Market as a “sight to see”… Both the nation and the diaspora have been begging for that structure (Market) and THIS structure (City Hall), as well as the environs around one of our other attractions, Parliament Buildings, to be restored to their former conditions.

I wish to assure you that the restoration of the Stabroek Market is underway. The major repairs to this City Hall will begin shortly, but I would like to close with a charge to every single citizen in this Capital City.

We owe it to ourselves (all of us), to our children, and to this nation that we love, to play the small roles that each of us have as citizens have, to bring Georgetown back, and our old nickname – The Garden City.

Thank You

Cathy Hughes

MINISTER