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and went to California to take part in the gold rush of 1849. He was drowned a few years later when the ship in which he was returning to England from the United States was wrecked in mid-Atlantic.
The early troubles of the Demerara Railway have coloured its whole existence. The line was too lightly built and, because of bad maintenance, it has become increasingly an economic liability. The equipment is ancient and inefficient, and although the traffic is considerable no profits can be made from the railway unless it is modernized. The situation became desperate in 1951, but a small programme of improvement has had a little effect. New staff have replaced the old, carefree management and the deficit has not continued to grow. There has been a suggestion that the railway should be closed down and the roads made fit to take the additional traffic, but when the mission of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (1953) went into the matter they reported that the cost of replacement would be £2,431,250 and recommended that the railway should be maintained but drastically modernized.1
The Sea Wall road suddenly turns left, inland toward the centre of the town, crossing the railway line, passing the decrepit station and ending where Main Street begins. A short distance up Main Street, on the left-hand side, a smart coloured sentry guards the entrance to Government House, the Governor's residence, which lies well back from the road beyond broad and lush green lawns. The Governor, Sir Alfred Savage,2 is a man whose plain sincerity was admired by all in the Colony; he wished to apply the Christian principles which dominate his whole manner of thought to his governorship of the Colony, and he and the Archbishop do not hide the fact that they believe only a change of heart among European Guianese, expatriates and the coloured peoples can bring a pervasive happiness to British Guiana.
The position of the Governor has been arduous since the beginning of the unspecified period of 'marking time' which
1 They estimated that the total capital expenditure for modernization would come to the modest sum of £912,187.
2 He retired from the governorship in June, 1955.
was recommended by the Robertson Report. Sir Alfred Savage, who became Governor at the time of the setting up of the Constitution, must have seen in its provisions for a new era of freedom and self-determination in the Colony a magnificent opportunity to carry a colonial people towards social and political maturity. It is common knowledge that he went through agonies of mind when it became clear that the leaders of the People's Progressive Party, the party which had been overwhelmingly put in power by the first elections under universal suffrage, were prepared to plunge the Colony into economic chaos, and in their newly gained euphoria were delighted to announce their determination to bring British rule to an end with as little delay as possible. Sir Alfred Savage knew that if the Constitution were suspended and the power of the P.P.P. were brought to an end the result would be a defeat not only for the Guianese but for the enlightened elements of the 'new colonialism'.
On the opposite side of Main Street, some two hundred yards from Government House, stands a modest white house, the offices of British Guiana Airways, and in the flat above the offices lived one of the most remarkable men in the Colony, Colonel Art Williams, a smallish, lean and handsome man in his sixties who talks in the charming accents of one of the southern states of the U.S.A.. Colonel Williams is a pioneer; a hundred years ago he would have been pushing westward the course of the American empire. In the twenty years during which he operated his private company, he and his fellow pioneer, Mr. Harry Wendt (also an American), did more to open up the Interior of the Colony than had been achieved during its whole previous history. The company operated three Dakotas and one amphibian, a Grumman, all of which were flying most of each day; collecting meat from the Rupununi cattle country, delivering a diamond drill to a mining camp at some obscure point on the upper reaches of the Mazaruni or, as happened early in 1955, dropping food to a misguided man who believed he could drive a jeep along the jungle trails to the Rupununi. Apart from this both the Dakotas and the Grumman provided regular cargo and passenger services to air-strips and river-points in the Interior, and days of travel along dull stretches of the river could thus be avoided. Both
Colonel Williams and Mr. Wendt were excellent mechanics, and after a hard day in the air they would settle down for hours in the maintenance shops, overseeing every adjustment to the engines. They found no Guianese who had studied aviation engineering thoroughly enough to be put in complete charge of the shops, and had equal difficulty in attracting to the job an expatriate willing to remain some years in the Colony. In spite of these and other difficulties British Guiana Airways was run with great efficiency, never failing a rendezvous in the Interior and rarely departing from its rigorous. time-table. It had only one accident, when Harry Wendt was forced to bring his Ireland amphibian down on to the top of a large, well-chosen tree in the deep jungle; he did it so skilfully that all but one of his passengers escaped without injury.
In June, 1955, British Guiana Airways was bought by the Government for £822,500. It was hoped that Colonel Williams would be allowed to run it with his previous efficiency and economy; but he did not remain as Managing Director, leaving the Colony in October, 1955. In its report the International Bank wrote that 'the mission recommends that the airline be maintained as an independent local company in view of its unique capacity to serve the very special needs of British Guiana's internal transport.'
My superficial journey round Georgetown was for the moment at an end; a rum swizzle, a Berbice chair, a little conversation awaited me on the verandah of the hotel where the mid-day sun was unfelt and the air was not unpleasantly hot. The retired Englishwomen were at their bridge, a District Commissioner from an Amerindian reservation discussed a murder in his district with the Assistant Commissioner of Police; the official in charge of dispensing loans in the SelfHelp scheme talked over some difficulties with the Development Secretary; the Director of Public Relations for Booker Brothers, the largest concern in the Colony and responsible for 80 per cent of its sugar production, gave me an outline of his company's plans for improving amenities and labour relations on the plantations. Few words are wasted in conversations in British Guiana; there is little gossip or frivolous talk,
for such pleasant things seem strangely out of place in a colony where so much is to be done and where all people, of every colour, are concerned to thrash out the myriad questions at every conversation. ‘Over Guiana, clouds', is the refrain to each verse of a poem by the excellent Georgetown poet, Mr. A. J. Seymour. During the last years the clouds have piled heavily, but the will is there to dissolve them. It is a great purpose which demands faith and mutual trust between peoples who have psychological as well as more tangible reasons to distrust each other. It is a purpose, too, which can only be achieved by courageous actions unconcerned with the extremer forms of caution.
2. A CHAPTER OF HISTORY
HE first European account of the territory of Guiana is a dispatch written in 1593 to the Royal Council of Spain in which the Governor of Trinidad, Antonio de Berreo, describes his journey down the Orinoco and his attempt to explore Guiana. Berreo knew something of the coastland and he makes it clear that there was no European settlement in the area at that time. The Spaniards and the Portuguese did not need to bother with so difficult a terrain when so much else was at their disposal for colonization. For countries like France, England and Holland, who had come late on the scene, the inaccessibility of Guiana was in many ways an attraction, since it meant that any settlements which were made there would be comparatively free from Spanish or Portuguese attack. In February, 1594, Sir Robert Dudley made inquiries about the rumoured Empire of Guiana when his ship put in at Trinidad. He sent a small boat to investigate and its crew returned, after great hardships, to say that the natives had told them of goldmines so rich that the people of the country powdered themselves with gold-dust. ‘And farre beyond them,' they said, ‘a great towne called El Dorado, with many other things.' Dudley set sail for England, and ten days later Raleigh arrived at the same anchorage in Trinidad. Taking a hundred men in five small boats he sailed down the coast to the mouth of the Orinoco and penetrated the mainland for 400 miles, where the flooding of the river forced him to turn back. He found samples of ore and became convinced of the mineral richness of the land. Had he stayed longer and been prepared to face hunger and adversity he would have been able to return to England with a more substantial account than the mixture of rumour, myth, wishful thinking and acute observation which was to bring him to the scaffold.
Raleigh left behind two men whose purpose was to gather