A peek into the history of Georgetown and how many of its streets were named
According to Guyana’s National Trust, in 1753 when Demerara became a colony, separate from Essequibo, its administrative headquarters were set up on Borsselen Island, the middle of three little islands some twenty miles up the Demerara River near Timehri.
A brandwaght or signal station had earlier been erected at the mouth of the Demerara River in 1748 and plantations were established. The Dutch also reserved land extending in an easterly direction from the brandwaght for public purposes.
Officials at the National Trust said that in 1759, owing to a large number of plantations it was agreed that Borsselen Island was unsuitable as the capital as the area was overcrowded. The new site for the capital was not agreed upon and whatever plans the Dutch had in thought were halted when the British gained control of Demerara.
They said, “In 1781, the Dutch surrendered Demerara to the English and lieutenant Colonel Robert Kingston, the British Lieutenant Governor, erected Fort St. George near the mouth of the river on the Company Path where the National Museum now stands. Kingston decided that the Brandwaght strip should provide the seat of the government and that same year an office was established there. On 31 January 1782, a squadron of French men – of – war, allies of the Dutch, appeared in the river, demolished Fort St. George and in a few days imposed terms of surrender on the English occupiers.”
The officials at the institution said that the French Commander issued a proclamation on 22 February, 1782 stating that it was ‘ considered to be necessary to establish a Capital, which would become a business centre: where religion would have a temple, justice a place, war its arsenals, commerce its counting houses and industries its factories: where also the inhabitants might enjoy the advantages of social intercourse.’
“Enslaved Africans requisitioned from the planters dug two canals running eastwards from the site of the brandwaght: one called North Canal corresponding to the present Croal Street, and the other the South Canal, corresponding to Hadfield Street. These formed two lines of lots looking on to a middle dam almost three-quarters of a mile. On 21 March 1782, the French Governor gave notice that he would receive visitors twice a week: on Sunday and on Thursday: from 9 a.m. till noon,” explained the officials.
They said that the colonies of Demerara and Essequibo were restored to the Dutch in 1784 and the Dutch West India Company, by a resolution dated 14 September 1784, named the town Stabroek after the President of the Company: Nicholas Van Gleevink; Lord of Castricum, Buckum and Stabroek.
The fort, which the French had constructed at Plantation Eve Leary was, renamed Frederick William after the Stadtholder. On 5 May 1812, when Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice passed finally to the English, Stabroek was renamed Georgetown in honour of King George IV.
According to the National Trust, Georgetown also has several wards some of which include; Stabroek, Bourda, Queenstown, Kingston and Cummingsburg.
With regard to Bourda, the Trust said that his ward of the city derives its name from Joseph Bourda who purchased this area which later became his estate. In 1876, this ward was reorganised by the Vlissingen Commissioners who were appointed by the government to analyse the claims made by many persons who claimed to be the heir of Joseph Bourda.
Like many parts of the city the streets of this ward reflect the rich history of Guyana. Charlotte Street was named in honour of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III. Alexander Street was named to commemorate the Czar of Russia Alexander I. Wellington Street was named after the Duke of Wellington. King Street was named in honour of King George III. Bourda Street was named after its founder Joseph Bourda. South Road, was known as Love Lane, it was a footpath that was named in accordance with its geographical position as the southernmost street in this ward. Oronoque Street and Orange Walk derive their names from dams that were planted with Oronoque and Orange trees.
As for Stabroek, this ward of the city of Georgetown has an oblong form being one fourth of a mile broad and one mile long. It was established by the French in 1782 on the Company’s reserve and was named by the Dutch after Nicholas Gleevinck; Lord of Stabroek, the then President of the Dutch West India Company in 1784.
Many of the streets were named after prominent members of society. Several of the short streets running north to south of Stabroek were known by numbers before they were named by the Mayor & Town Council in 1901.
- Croal Street, named after John Croal, a former Mayor of Georgetown, was also known as Red Dam due to its surface covering of red earth.
- Hadfield Street was named after Joseph Hadfield, an architect and former Crown Surveyor, of the colony of British Guiana.
- Magnet Place was named after, Dr. Etienne Magnet, the Director of Medical services and a former Surgeon General.
- Sendall Place was named after, Sir Walter Kendall KCMG, a former Governor (1898 -1901) of Georgetown.
- Pollard Place was named after, the Honourable W. B. Pollard, a former Auditor General and Vlissingen Commissioner.
- Boyle Place was named after, Sir Cadenish Boyle KCME., a Government secretary and acting Governor (1894-1900) of the city.
- Austin Place was named after, Charles Austin, the son of Bishop Austin and Receiver General and Vlissingen Commissioner.
- Brummell Place was named after John Brummell, Sheriff of Demerara, Police Magistrate of Georgetown and the first Chairman of the Botanic Gardens.
- Chalmers Place was named after a Crown Surveyor who died in 1877. Winter Place was named in memory of, Mr. F. A. R. Winter, a well-known merchant and the founder of Hand in Hand Insurance Company.
- Sandeman Place was named after, Patrick Sandeman, the keeper of the Government Astronomical & Meteorological Observatory.
- Brickdam, the main street of this ward of the city, was paved with bricks and made of burnt earth until 1921 when it was paved over for the arrival of the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII). The upper side of Brickdam was once lined with palm trees, which were planted by Mr. Richard M. Jones.