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town. To the left the Cathedral stands in its grass-covered square, a building which I admired at first sight and came to love. It is the third cathedral to be built on the site and was completed in 1892 to designs by the late Sir Arthur Blomfield. The first building was designed by an officer of the Royal Engineers who was stationed in the Colony. Sir Arthur Blomfield adapted Gothic forms for use with wood and the possibly unique result is a building of great charm. Although a Gothic purist might fault it on a number of points it gives the pleasing effect of some architectural equivalent to 'Sunday painting'. It is painted white, with a roof of sloping corrugated aluminium which blindingly catches the sun. It has been said that the Cathedral may possibly be the largest wooden structure in the world-but it is quite certainly among the highest.

The British Guiana Museum displays its fascinating collections with admirable taste and according to the most modern theories of museum arrangement. All aspects of life in the Colony are covered, from tanks containing all the beautiful and sometimes vicious fish of its rivers, to a gallery devoted to the arts of the Amerindians, collections made by travellers in the Interior during recent years to replace the collections lost during the fire of 1945. There is a department of taxidermy, run by Mr. Ram Singh, and almost the entire fauna of the Colony are to be found in the Hall of Natural History.

The Director, Mr. Vincent Roth, is a remarkable man, typical of a breed of white Guianese which is dying out. His loyalties are entirely to British Guiana, although he was born in Australia, where his father, Dr. Walter Roth, was carrying out various anthropological surveys. The family moved to British Guiana where Dr. Roth prepared his great work on the arts and crafts of the Guianese Amerindians and was appointed Magistrate for the Pomeroon District. His son, Vincent, joined the public service and for years travelled in the Interior in various capacities, surveying a road in the North-West District, mapping unknown territory and administering the law, as magistrate or District Officer, in tough mining areas deep inland. He has been a nominated member of the Legislative Assembly, written books on the animals and fishes of British Guiana and has built the fine models of old Georgetown which enliven the historical section of the museum. Such versatility

was essential to the men of his stamp who have served the Colony so well and in so many ways.

In 1782 the Dutch, who owned the Colony at that time, moved the seat of Government for the Demerara territory down river to its mouth, where they began to build the town of Stabroek1 in a geometrical ‘grid-iron' system of streets, divided by canals in the manner of their home-country. Then, as now, the land was over four feet below sea-level at high tide, and the canals were essential for drainage and water control. Four years after the town was planned it was still no more than two rows of houses, each a mile long running at right-angles to the river. Visitors in those days were appalled by the filth and odours of the canals and even ten years later, when the Dutch were approaching the end of their possession of the Colony, Stabroek showed only the beginnings of its later beauty. Nevertheless the grid-iron of broad streets in the modern town and the system of rectangular lots and dividing canals come directly from the town-planning of the Dutch; and so does the drainage system. The Dutch built a series of sluice-gates or 'kokers' at points where the canals met the estuary and at low tide they would be opened to allow the accumulated water from the land to flow away; at high tide the kokers formed a barrier between the sea and the canals. As a barrier they were inefficient; the sea and river were constantly encroaching on the town. It was not until 1882 that the Sea Wall was completed and kept the water under control. Violent storms and hurricanes are unknown along this coast, a piece of good fortune which has made the existence of the Colony possible. The old drainage system, providing an excellent breeding ground for disease and insects, survived in Georgetown until 1923, when it was replaced by a pipe-line sewage system which has allowed many of the central canals to be filled in. (A piped supply of potable water was not available until 1950.) The avenue which runs down Main Street was once a canal filled with the Victoria Regia2 lily, with 1 The French had, a few years before, begun a settlement at the same point, which they called Longchamps.

2 The Victoria Regia was first discovered in the Rupununi area of the Interior by the Schomburgk brothers, who explored the Colony in the 1840's, one of them by commission of Queen Victoria. Richard Schomburgk describes the discovery in his Travels, when he stood and looked at the flower 'in silent wonder'.

its huge leaves five or more feet in diameter like flat saucers, and its wax-like flowers, which only seem to be real when the white has become touched with pink.

The finest architectural survival from Dutch times is the Stabroek Market which, although it was not built until the 1880's, is clearly inspired by Dutch styles of building. It is a long, gabled building framed in iron with a façade of white and brick-red painted wood with a central clock tower charmingly capped by a red pyramid supported by slender posts on a balconied roof. Opposite the market stand the Public Buildings, built in the heavy style of Victorian classicism, from where the Colony is administered by British and local officials. In this and other government offices it is noticeable that the clerks are of African descent rather than East Indian. although the East Indians form 45 per cent of the total population, and Africans 36 per cent. The streets and offices of Georgetown would make one suppose that the Colony was African with a very small minority of Indians. This is because the African is gregarious and a natural town-dweller, while the Indians prefer to remain in the country districts, working on the sugar estates, tending their paddy-fields and dreaming of the day when they will possess an acre and a cow. The African, with memories of slavery, has a subconscious antagonism to most forms of work connected with the land and his ideal is to find employment as a clerk, preferably with the Government. It is a position which carries social cachet, whereas a man who works with his hands on the land has hardly raised himself above the level of a slave. It is a psychological problem of very great importance to the prosperity of the Colony and I shall return to it in a later chapter.

From the Public Buildings another broad Dutch street, Brickdam, runs at right-angles to the river. On one side most of the lots are devoted to the compounds of the various Government Departments; in the Geological Survey compound the Government geologists plan their ceaseless expeditions into the Interior in search of oil and gold and columbite and tantalite. It is for them to prove that the Colony is a potential El Dorado, but they themselves refer to it as ‘A Land of Samples'. Most useful minerals are to be found in the Interior, but usually in such small quantities as to be economically unwork.

able. Bauxite is one of the Colony's most important exports and the recent discovery of deposits of manganese in the NorthWest District will be worked on a large scale during the next few years. There are great deposits of iron in the Berbice area, but they have not attracted exploitation, since they are considered to be an uneconomic proposition. Near the Geological Survey is the large Agricultural compound, and the future of the Colony depends more on the success of the work done here than on the problematical discovery of minerals. Beyond the Agricultural compound lies the pride of Georgetown, its Botanic Gardens, whose work is closely linked with the more economic research of the Agricultural Department. The Gardens were laid out between 1879 and 1884 on the site of an abandoned sugar plantation, whose heavy clay formed a badly drained waste-land. As with all cultivation on the coastal belt, an elaborate system of irrigation and drainage had to be constructed before the planting could begin. Today it is difficult to imagine that all has been achieved in a mere seventy-five years, when the trees of English landscaped gardens take two centuries to take the shape imagined for them by those who planted them. Not all the trees and plants are indigenous; there are varieties of palms from all over the world, the sacred lotus lily of the Far East, a row of high eucalyptus-like cajeput trees from Australia, or the enormous baobab tree from Africa. There are also fine clusterings of bamboos, fifty feet hightrees which I had always associated with south-east Asia but which I was later to find frequently growing on the banks of the rivers in the Interior of British Guiana. There is an area of the Gardens, called the Parklands, which has an incomparable collection of tropical flora in a natural setting-trees in the hot-houses at Kew are like miserably caged animals and it is impossible to enjoy them. In the Parklands the samans, the sugar-cane palms, the evil-fruited cannon-ball tree, the royal palms, the spur-buttressed mora and the majestic bullet tree rise above the climbing bush of the pale Demerara primrose and the marvellous scented frangipani.' Nowhere in the whole

1 Frangipani was the name of a 12th century Italian nobleman who made a scent from volatile oils which became famous throughout Europe. Spanish conquistadors were reminded of it when they smelt a white and red plant in the Caribbean, and named it after the scent.

of British Guiana can the sense of tropical luxuriance be felt so well as in the Parklands. Strangely, in the dense rain-forests of the Interior luxuriance of form and colour are missing.

There is a small zoo in the Gardens, containing many of the indigenous animals and birds of the Colony, though the various kinds of cats found in the forested parts are represented by only one specimen. The zoo is remarkable for two things; a cage of large macaws whose brilliance of plumage is staggering; and

Blue and yellow macaw. Blue-crowned parrot

a pond containing a family of manatees (Manatus Americanus), that rare and ungainly animal which is, incredibly, supposed to have been the origin of the myth of the mermaid. It is a cowsized mammal which lives in the estuaries of some of the rivers and feeds off the vegetation on their banks. Its fore-legs are flippers without digits, and instead of hind-legs it has a large horizontal tail-fin. This fin and the two breasts' with which the female feeds its young presumably gave rise to the mermaid story, but the broad and shapeless body, some eight

1 'Manati' is the Carib Indian word for breast.

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