By PAT DIAL
Waterfalls Magazine – In the last two months there have been several media reports of the renewal which has been taking place in Albouystown. Until the 1950’s, Albouystown had the reputation of being a culturally ebullient suburban village, with the largest settlements of Portuguese, Chinese and East Indians in the City. The owners of properties lived on them, in most cases with a tenant living in the flat below or in a small house elsewhere in the yard. Since the owners of the properties lived on them, houses were kept in good repair and in many cases there were small gardens in front of the yards. In most yards there were fruit trees of one kind or another and these included mangoes, jamoons, genips, sapodillas, at least one coconut tree, breadfruit, star apples and every yard, de rigueur, had a clump of sugar cane. All the neighbours of various ethnic groups lived in the greatest amity and would assist each other in a variety of ways.
A large proportion of the City’s tradesmen lived in Albouystown. Here were the tailors, the goldsmiths, carpenters, vat makers, shoe repairers, tin smiths; plumbers, many of whom worked at the shelter belt which supplied the city with piped water. Transportation of goods of various kinds for the business community was done by horse or donkey carts, most of which were in Albouystown.
There were a large number of grocery shops which were usually at the juncture of two streets and there were three bakeries and three large rum shops which produced their own individual blend of rum. There were also four drug stores including one owned by the father of Mr. Hamilton Greene who became one of the country’s most important political leaders. The one medical doctor was Dr J.P. Lachmansingh, whose surgery was at James Street near the La Penitence Market. Dr Lacmansingh, though not a wealthy man, collected fees only from the wealthy and served most of his clients free.
Most of the stevedores that is the workers who loaded and unloaded ships lived in Albouystown and H.N. Critchlow became their leader and organized the first Trade Union in Guyana. There were several Christian churches and one large Hindu Temple to which was affiliated the Dharamshala, which provided a home for the poor of all races and religions. The head of the Dharamshala was Pandit Ramsaroop Maraj who stands out as one of Guyana’s greatest philanthropists. There was also a strong Cumfa organization which had regular ceremonies with drumming and dancing.
The various racial groups lived in fraternity and celebrated with each other and were with each other in sickness or death.
Then came the 1960’s and the country was overtaken with racial -political strife of a kind which had never before occurred in Guyanese History. People moved into communities where their ethnic group was in majority and people from the countryside moved to Georgetown. Many of these people, the Africans in particular, found their way to Albouystown. All the Portuguese and Chinese and many East Indians left the ward and almost all the Portuguese and Chinese emigrated to North America. The owners who had left the ward neglected their properties which, in many cases deteriorated and the City Council seemed to have turned its eyes away from the ward. Now there seems to be a new attitude.
The Central Government, all the political parties and the City Council itself are all committed to the renewal of Albouystown.
The first major effort in this development has been Independence Boulevard which promises to be another Regent Street; many houses are being renovated; the drains are all being concreted and are functional and this makes Albouystown one of the best drained parts of the City. Several persons have begun to build blocks of flats and new people have begun to occupy the ward.
Albouystown has now become the most attractive part of the City for investment and properties could still be obtained at bargain prices. As important, all the political parties and Government are now committed to its renewal so a brighter future awaits Albouystown.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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