Volume 3. Issue 2. August 2004

The Stabroek Market

Constructed in 1881, this magnificent all metal structure bears the former name of Georgetown: Stabroek which was named by the Dutch in honour of the Director of the Dutch West India Company, Nicholas Van Gleenisnk, Lord of Castricum, Bahim and Stabroek, when they regained possession of the colonies from the English on 4 September 1784.

The present structure was the third market constructed. In 1792 enslaved Africans were granted permission by the Court of Policy to vend plantains on Sundays. This marked the beginning of the Stabroek Market. It was described by Henry Bolingbroke in 1799 as ‘one where the Negroes assemble to sell their truck such as fruits, vegetables, fowls and eggs.’

As the city grew, it was resolved by the Town Council that a permanent structure be erected to provide the city with a market place of some semblance. This market was described by a visitor to British Guiana in 1851 as ‘the best in the West Indies, characterized by the mingling of sailors, merchants, clerks, porters and butchers.’

At the insistence of Mr. Francis Conjers, a councillor for ward two of the city, a committee was established to examine the feasibility of erecting a market, large enough to accommodate the growing number of vendors

On 29 July 1879, the design submitted by Nathaniel McKay, an American, on behalf of the Edge Moor Iron Company was selected. It was favoured by the committee on account of ‘its foundation and ornamental appearance and a very perfect system of ventilation, the latter being especially suited for the tropical climate.’

Under the supervision of Mr. Luke M. Hill, the Town Superintendent, construction commenced on 5 February 1880. Covering an area of 76,728 square feet, this structure is the largest all metal market in the Caribbean. The entire structure was constructed in Philadelphia and then shipped and assembled in Georgetown.

On 1 November 1881, the market was declared open by Governor Forshaw ‘without any ceremony what so ever, the only signs of festivity being the flags disposed of about the buildings and the stalls.

A historic photo of vendors in the market

With its distinguishable four faced clock, manufactured by the E Howard Company of Boston in 1880, this structure, built partially on water and land must be preserved for the benefit of future generations.

It has been identified by Dr. Ron Van Oers, of theWorld Heritage Centre in 2000 as one of thirteen monuments to be included in Guyana’s Dossier for the submission of Georgetown as a World Heritage Site.

Inside this Issue
Our Activities

The Greater Georgetown Development Plan:
A Mandate for The Preservation of Historic Georgetown

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The Greater Georgetown Development Plan, recently adopted by the Government of Guyana, is an instrument to ensure survival of the city’s valuable historical and architectural heritage of Georgetown. The document outlines four conservation areas within the City of Georgetown as well as a list of heritage sites and buildings.

These four areas are:
1. Kingston Conservation Area,
2. Avenue of the Republic and Main Street Conservation Area,
3. Brickdam Conservation Area and
4. Bourda Conservation Area.

The need to protect and attend to the remaining of our tangible architectural components was recognized. The GGDP not only seeks to retain the character of a building or the area but also to promote a more pro-active approach to conservation and as such proposals for future development and general enhancement schemes will be carefully examined.

Policies were prepared as regulatory measures to enforce the maintenance and improvement of the conservation areas. Issues such as height, roof-scape, form, density and features of building facades are just a few of the list details that are required of the applicant when submitting a development within these zones. Alterations as well as new constructions will be rigidly assessed to ensure that there is harmony with the existing surroundings.

Ms. Mariella Khirattie
Architect
Cental & Housing Planning Authority

His Royal Highness, the Duke of York, Prince Andrew observes “Dutch Forts in Guyana’ a mini-exhibition mounted by the Trust.

1763 Monument

The National Trust of Guyana continues to persevere in its efforts to conserve and promote the nation’s patrimony. Two of the plaques which were stolen by vandals from the base of the plinth of this national treasure were replaced by the Trust. The Brass Aluminum and Cast Iron Foundry were contracted for this task.

Exhibition of the life of Sir Robert Schomburgk

The National Trust of Guyana, together with the Ministry of Culture Youth & Sport and other stakeholders , staged an exhibition celebrating the city of Georgetown during the 19th century. On display were a number of photographs exhibiting the diverse and extraordinary wooden architecture, supplanted with quotes by Sir Robert Schomburgk as he described the city’s fascinating view.

Publications

The Trust continues to produce and disseminate information as a part of its public awareness programme to educate the populace of Guyana’s diverse heritage. Four new brochures on St. Georges Cathedral, Great Houses of Georgetown, The Cenotaph and the 1763 Monument were produced. They area available at the Trust at a cost of $100 each

A Caribbean Action Plan in World Heritage

Places:

Have you ever wondered why “place” is important to us? Place is a point of reference, one that embodies ideas of life both wild and domesticated, and time – past, present and future. Place gives us a sense of belonging – we recognize familiar colours and textures; shapes and shadows; movements and sounds and identify ourselves as an integral part of them. Place is defined by urbanity and wilderness each unique and equally inspiring. Inspiring enough for us to desire to enjoy its beauty into perpetuity. Preserving, conserving and protecting our natural and cultural places are important aspects of being Guyanese. We learn at a very young age that Guyana is filled with natural heritage and equally important, we would not recognise Georgetown and other landmarks without such symbols as our churches, monuments, and wooden buildings that make our places unique.

We have made important steps in maintaining both aspects of our heritage, that is, we have entrusted responsibility on the National Trust and the Environmental Protection Agency each established through their laws. Each is important to the other – the National Trust recognizes historic and cultural heritage and intends on preserving this, while the Environmental Protection Agency facilitates the conservation and protection of our natural heritage.

Conflicts:
Heritage and potential heritage sites in Guyana, have traditionally been about buildings places where important activities in our history occurred e.g. the Staborek Market. However, some of our sites like Fort Nassau important to the 1763 slave rebellion, are found inland where, unlike the coastline, such settlements have contracted and since become almost dormant places of our past. Recognising that, the hinterland location of such sites highlights their environmental context.

Lessons from around the world, indicate that preserving “place” in a world that is run by economic powers carries with it a high price. It is therefore not uncommon to see the encroachment of development associated with mining, forestry and tourism (e.g. the opening up of these areas through access),take

precedence over preservation of anthropological artifacts and sites pressuring us to either use the sites in a way that fits the economic reality or risk their destruction altogether. Having to pay this price forces the National Trust and other such organizations to be creative in their tactics to meet their objectives.

Environmental impacts:
While this is a dilemma we must face and find solutions for, towards achieving sustainable development, we must also face the fact that the environment affects and is affected by the development of our hinterland heritage sites. Developing such sites often means that knowledge of their importance and increased awareness of related issues is developed while access is improved not only for those with resource extraction interests and scientific interests but those (nationals as well as foreigners) with a tourism interest who are willing to pay to be in such places or those who would stand to benefit from vandalism.

With the opening of access and development of the tourism potential, the risk of solid waste accumulation is very real in the absence of public education, tour operator controls and systems that can accommodate or prevent this effect. Additionally, facilities to support tourism inclusive of accommodation, dining, washrooms and parking introduce environmental stresses that were not present in the original use and can have deep-seated repercussions on surrounding communities. Such effects include the further disturbance of fauna beyond traditional hunting to the extent that there is a decrease in numbers and diversity.

Inherent land use conflicts exist between natural resource extraction activities in the area of influence, and preservation of heritage sites and should be addressed as far as possible.

Knowledge of mining, forestry, agriculture and road-building activities upstream or even wave action that is purported to cause riverbank erosion due to barges, that may cause sedimentation down stream where important artifacts may have collapsed into the river will indicate the need for the National Trust to advocate for better environmental management e.g. tailings management, reduced impact logging, agro-forestry and silt-trapping, to name a few.

Preserving a site is affected by the activities outside the site as described. However, the environment does affect in a very real way the stock of heritage sites listed. It is common knowledge that Guyana is a humid tropical country and as such the growth of mould and fungus remains a challenge as the National Trust perseveres towards its objectives.

Synergies:

It is clear therefore that in aspiring to meet its objectives, the National Trust and other Agencies can support each other through land use planning and zoning, implementation and enforcement of laws for other land uses, unrestricted collection of flora and fauna samples, monitoring etc.

In addition, the real tourism potential of cultural and heritage tourism can be developed holistically with environmental guidelines that ensure that not only are building parts restricted from being taken from a site, but that if a site is known to have a peculiar natural conservation value, that these be respected as well.

It is not uncommon also for sites to be managed to ensure that visitor safety is a priority e.g. old wharfs are not used if they require replacement etc. and this can be managed through zoning. Zoning is also important where there are sites of natural high conservation value to facilitate sustainable utilization.

Some resources in other parts of the world, are devoted to ensuring the integrity of structures to continue to support the activities that sustain access to the sites as well as knowledge over time of the structures being preserved. Monitoring, is therefore very important and synergies with other agencies that have developed this skill can be utilized for achieving the objectives of the National Trust.

Social Consciousness:
The objectives of preserving national heritage places and environmental protection are not dissimilar. Both, work towards the goal of sustainable development that assures that future generations benefit from the resources we have at our disposal while ensuring that present communities benefit from their existence. The fact that there are so many stakeholders underscores the responsibility of every citizen to understand the importance of Guyanese “places” and to assure their protection through a social consciousness not permissive of historic and cultural heritage vandalism and environmental degradation.

Heritage Milestone

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception:celebrating the 90th anniversary of the laying of he foundation stone

In 1826, the first Catholic church; the Lady Chapel was erected on Brickdam. It was soon removed to Victoria when a decision was taken to erect a new cathedral in 1854.

Designed by Ceasar Castellani, the renowned colonial architect, this edifice was described by Rev. Ignatius Scoles as the finest example of wooden architecture in the West Indies. On 7 March 1913 this structure was destroyed by fire.

The Majestic new Cathedral was designed by an Englishman, Sir Leonard Stokes. Granite obtained from the quarries of Dalli and Wolga on the Essequibo River and sand from Leguan was used in the construction of this structure whose foundation stone was laid on 15 August 1915.

A part of the building was used for divine worship on 13 March 1921. On 8 December the entire structure was completed and blessed.