National Trust of Guyana

Kingston Seawall

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Location: Kingston, Georgetown

Classification: Civil Infrastructure

Period/ Year Built: 1860

Historical Background / Description:

The Kingston Seawall is considered Guyana’s oldest concrete sea defence structure; it was completed in 1860. This wall however, was not the first attempt of building a permanent sea defense structure, but was the first to withstand the strength of the sea. The battle for Guyana’s coastline is a continuous fight between the sea, and the men and women who occupy lands located along the low coastal plains. One example of lands being lost to the sea occurred in 1792, when two plantations named Kierfield and Sandy Point, near the Kitty area were claimed by the ocean. 

Before the building of masonry seawalls were mastered, earth dams acted as barriers that kept the sea at bay. However, in 1849, there was a breach along the front dam in the community of Plaisance, which left it under a few feet of water for many days. The residents pressed Governor Hincks to have the sea defence rectified since the water left the community inhabitable for a brief period. 

Later in 1855, the sea rose violently during the spring season and swept away most of what was in its path. Flooding was far and wide and left most areas from Kingston to plantation Ogle under at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) of water and even threatened the structural integrity of the Lighthouse. The first attempt of constructing a permanent masonry wall to keep out the sea occurred after Mr. Benjamin Stoute Bayley advocated for a “proper” wall to be built. This wall was completed by 1860 spanning the area from the Groyne to the Round House and was built by Baron Hora Siccama.

The Round House was built in the 19th century and is believed to have been used as an observation point for incoming ships to Georgetown. It was erected near the site where Camp House once stood before the great Kingston flood in 1855. The structure was rehabilitated in 1995. 

The Seawall Bandstand is located on the Kingston Seawall Road, Kingston, Georgetown. The structure was built circa 1903 as a memorial to Queen Victoria, who died on January 22, 1901. This recreational structure is one of three bandstands in the city of Georgetown which was built with cast iron decorative ornaments. It was a social hub for musical events and orchestra whereby theatrical groups and bands (most notably the Guyana Police Force musical band) would perform for passers-by.