The development of Bourda
The ward of Bourda was once an estate, within the Plantation of Vlissingen, owned by Dutch Joseph Bourda. The plantation was recognized by the Vlissengen Commissioners who were appointed by the Government to analyze the claims made by many persons, alleged to be the successors of Joseph Bourda, in 1876.
The ward, like many other sections in Georgetown, reflects the rich history of the country. The names of streets were often named after influential individuals such as, Bourda Street, named after Joseph Bourda himself. Alexander Street was named after Czar of Russia, Alexander; Wellington Street was named after the Duke of Wellington; King Street after King George III and Charlotte Street was named in honour of the wife of King George III, Queen Charlotte.
However, there are some streets who’s names were derived from there functions and locations. Such examples are: South Road which was previously known as Love Lane, served as a footpath located in the southern part of the ward. Orange Walk was named after the dam where oranges were planted and Oronoque Street for where Oronoques were located.
Sites and buildings of historic Bourda
Bourda Cemetery is considered one of Georgetown’s oldest cemeteries; it was previously known as Bourda Walk, being a portion of the larger Bourda plantation and was owned by Joseph Bourda, a Dutch planter. The cemetery is located on Regent and Bourda Streets.
The cemetery initially was a private cemetery for the upper class members of the colonial society who contributed politically and economically to the then Dutch colony of Demerara; it was then extended to family members. One of the earliest dated tombs in the cemetery is of the assistant secretary of the Court of Policy, Mr. Adrien Tinne, who died in 1815. Others supposedly include John Patoir, William Booker and members of the Bagot family. The cemetery is no longer in use.
South Road (Municipal) Day Care Centre
The South Road (Municipal) Day Care Centre is located with its main façade facing South Road and borders Orange Walk. The building was formerly known as King George V Municipal Welfare Centre and also as the Municipal Infant Welfare and Maternity Centre. The commissioning of this building represented a turning point in British Guiana’s approach towards infant mortality within the colony.
The Infant Welfare and Maternity Centre was opened on November 28, 1931, by Lady Denham, wife of Governor Sir Edward Brandis Denham, K.C.M.G, K.B.E. The centre was constructed from special funds provided by the colonial Government. The building housed the offices of health officers who worked to reduce the rate of infant mortality by providing a variety of services. In May, 1935, the building was renamed King George V Municipal Welfare Centre. And later on, the Municipal Day Care Centre. Sometime later it was renamed the South Road Day Care Centre as other municipal day care centres emerged.
National Art Gallery (Castellani House)
The National Gallery of Art, also known as Castellani House is located on Vlissingen Road, Georgetown. It was designed by Italian Architect, Cesar Castellani. This 19th century building was once the Residence of Government Botanist, George S. Jenman and the late President, Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. In 1993 the National Gallery of Art was established to preserve and promote the works of various Guyanese artists.
Bourda Cricket Club
Established in the 1850s, this is one of the oldest cricket grounds in the Caribbean and the fifth oldest in the world. It has hosted numerous cricket matches between the West Indies and international teams.
St. Barnabus’s Church (Bourda Church)
St. Barbabus Anglican Church was commonly referred to as Bourda Church. The corner stone for the building was laid by Bishop William Piercy Austin on August 14, 1884. The church was completed and consecrated by Bishop Austin on October 20, 1884. From the early days of the church, it was plagued with a number of defects along with changes to the building’s design such as an additional steeple and a Chapel of Corpus Christi in 1926, inevitably led to instability of its foundation. As early as 1969, there were talks of demolishing the Gothic style concrete structure; the building was demolished in 2011.
The Botanical Gardens Complex was established by the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society in 1877. The garden is located with its main entrance facing Vlissengen Road and borders Homestretch and Mandela Avenues. The role of the garden in the city is to increase the aesthetic value while providing a recreational venue. Today, several historic sites and rich flora and fauna can be found in the garden.
In January 1885 two curved cast iron bridges, imported into the colony in 1884, were installed at the Botanical Gardens to allow passage across a lake in the garden and replacing the wooden bridges. Theory has it that the bridges were named the “Kissing Bridge” from the appearance of interlocking lips as the bridges connect two small islands in the gardens. Over the years, the bridges have been popularly used for weddings and other similar type events.
The Bandstand, located on the western plot of the Botanical Gardens was built to commemorate the work of Mr. John Brummell, who died in December 1881; he was the Sheriff to Demerara and a member of the first installment of Board of Directors to the Botanical Gardens. The ornate structure was built circa 1882, and is considered the oldest of the three bandstands in colonial Georgetown; it was constructed at a cost of £400 with techniques similarly used on other bandstands.
Jenman’s House (Curator / Caretaker Lodge)
The timber building was built in 1881 and it was designed by Mr. John Brummell. It was originally used to house the board meetings of the garden. Later on, work was done on the building which saw an extension on the western wing which was considered the Gatekeeper’s quarters. Some features of the building include its gallery which overlooks the grounds of the garden and its clock, which was dedicated to the memory of George Samuel Jenman, the first Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens (1897-1902).
The first concept of a zoological park was coined in the 1880s when an attempt was made to establish a zoo in the garden by the then president of the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society and Sheriff of Demerara, Mr. Henry Kirke. The concept of a zoological park was revived again in 1946, when a Harpy Eagle was donated to the museum and later transferred to the Zoological Park which saw unprecedented donations of birds, snakes and other animals. A recommendation was later made by the government to have the Zoological Park officially opened and on January 01, 1952, it was opened with A. A. Abraham as the superintendent.
Patrick Dargan House
Patrick Dargan House commonly referred to as Dargan House is located at Robb and Oronoque Street and houses the UNESCO National Commission Office along with other agencies. It was constructed circa 1880 and was named after its first influential owner, Mr. Patrick Dargan (1850-1908). The building was sold to the Government of Guyana in 1975 with the aim of establishing a Museum of Social History, but this never materialized. In 1981, the first floor of the building was occupied by UNESCO and the top floor by the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture.
Bourda Market is an early 20th structure named after Joseph Bourda, the owner of Bourda plantation. It is located between Regent and Robb Streets, Bourda in Georgetown. The market was initially built in 1880 but was later reconstructed in 1902 to facilitate the growing number of vendors and consumers alike. Today, it is considered the second largest market in the city of Georgetown.
Other sites in Bourda
National Unity Monument
The Monument to National Unity is located in the compound of the National Art Gallery (Castellani House), Bourda, Georgetown. It was unveiled in memory of Dr. Walter Rodney by Minister of Education, Social Development & Culture, Dr. Dale A Bisnauth on Rodney’s 15th death Anniversary in 1995. The monument was designed by Desmond Ali.
Burnham’s Mausoleum is located at the Place of the Seven Ponds in the Botanical Gardens. It was designed by renowned architect Mr. George Henry and was completed in 1986. The Mausoleum is the final resting place for Guyana’s first Executive President Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. The crucifix shaped structure provides a glimpse of some of the President’s past work and achievements depicted in bronze panels along the walls.
Place of the Seven Ponds
The Place of the Seven Ponds is located on the southern plot of land in the Botanical Gardens. It was built in honour of the nation’s fallen heroes. Buried at this site are Guyana’s first Governor General, Sir David Gardiner Rose who died on November 10, 1969, former Presidents, His Excellency Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham (buried in a mausoleum), His Excellency Mr. Arthur Chung and His Excellency Mr. Desmond Huge Hoyte and National Poet Mr. Martin Carter.