National Trust of Guyana

Volume 3. Issue 1. March 2004

Table of Contents

Reading Progress


to Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow

This monument housed in the compound of Parliament Building was unveiled by the then Premier of British Guiana Dr. Cheddi Jagan on 2 December 1964.

It is a testimony to the man considered ‘the father of the trade union movement in Guyana’. As a 21 year old dock worker Critchlow founded the British Guiana Labour Union which fought successfully for the rights of dock workers in Georgetown.

This bronze statue sculpted to the likeness of Critchlow by Mr. E. R. Burrowes, with assistance from Walter Milling and Andrew Lyght, is mounted on a 6ft 6 inch reinforced concrete pedestal. At the base there is a marble plate which is inscribed with the following words; ‘Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow: Father of the Trade Union Movement in the Commonwealth of Nations. Born 1884- died 1958. Exegit Momentum Perenus Aere.’

The decision to place the monument in the compound of the Public Buildings was a controversial decision. It was voiced that the Bourda green would have been an ideal location as it was an area where Critchlow had delivered many speeches as the leader of Guyana’s first trade union.

Monuments are regarded as enduring, lasting reminders to a legacy of the past. As the state owned agency tasked with the preservation of the nation’s patrimony the National Trust of Guyana invites the members of the public to safeguard our heritage for the benefit of future generations.

A new board of the National Trust of Guyana comprising of the following members was appointed by the Government of Guyana to conserve and promote the nation’s patrimony for the period 1 November 2003- 31 October 2005

  • Dr. James G. Rose, C.C.H. – Chairman
  • Mr. Andrew Bishop- Commissioner of Lands & Survey
  • Mr. Rawle Edinboro, Town & Country Planner
  • Ms. June Dubisette, National Archivist (ag)
  • Mr. Orin Hinds, Architect
  • Mr Lennox Hernandez, Lecturer- Department of Architecture, University of Guyana
  • Dr. Patrick Williams, Executive Director- W.W.F
  • Mr. Egbert Carter, Engineer
  • Ms. Joan Elvis, Principal Regional Development Officer, Ministry of Local Government
  • Mr. Lloyd Andrews, Principal Regional Development Officer, Ministry of Amerindian Affairs

Preserving the Urban Wooden Fabric

The city of Georgetown is renowned for its elegant wooden buildings. However, many of these structures, which represent an integral chapter in the history and development of the Garden City are in danger of being erased by development and urban growth.

Proprietors need to realize that these structures if properly maintained, can be an economic asset. In other cases wooden structures can be adapted to new uses as exemplified by the Dutch Bottle Café formerly a domestic dwelling over 100 years old on South Road.

In addition, additions to historic structures as illustrated by the Cara Suites in Quamina Street should incorporate traditional architectural features to blend with the original structure thus preserving the historic fabric of the built environment.

A Caribbean Action Plan in World Heritage

A timely meeting, important for the heritage of the Caribbean, took place in Castries, St. Lucia, from 23-27 February 2004. The purpose of the conference was to formulate an action plan for the Caribbean to be presented to the World Heritage Committee at its annual meeting in July 2004. This action plan is to support another document at that annual meeting, the “Periodic Report on the Application of the World Heritage Convention in Latin America and the Caribbean.” A Caribbean Action Plan in World Heritage is important to all Caribbean countries as the Periodic report shows how under-represented the region is with regard to World Heritage Sites.

The World Heritage Committee has seen it fit to include as one group, for administrative purposes possibly, the countries of Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) with three sub-groups: South America (excluding all non-Latin countries); Central America (including Mexico, but excluding Belize); and all independent Caribbean islands plus Belize, Guyana and Suriname. The Caribbean (and South American) countries still administered by an external power are not included in the World Heritage LAC grouping, but the presence of some at the St Lucia meeting, was welcomed. The South America sub-group has 10 states, Central America has 7 states and the Caribbean has 14 states (two Caribbean states have not yet signed the World Heritage Convention). With regard to World Heritage Sites up to 2003, the South America group has 37 sites, Central America has 59 sites, whilst the Caribbean group has only 14 sites (Belize 1, Cuba 7, Dominica 1, Dominican Republic 1, Haiti 1, St. Kitts and Nevis 1, and Suriname 2). Caribbean countries, with their abundance of natural scenic sites, and cultural sites important to the development of habitation (prehistoric and historic) in the western hemisphere, feel sure that more of their sites can be adjudged to have World Heritage status.

Unfortunately, many of these island states are quite small and may not meet the full requirements demanded by the World Heritage Committee, hence the importance of the St. Lucia meeting to seek novel ways of meeting all requirement. Previous Caribbean heritage meetings, the most recent prior to St. Lucia, being in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in November 2003, had discussed the constraints and challenges of World Heritage listing that was experienced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

To this end, the possibility of Serial and Transboundary World Heritage nominations was discussed at the St. Lucia meeting. The former type of nomination would cater for a number of similar sites in a country (serial) or across several countries (serial and transboundary) that could be linked as one nomination, whereas, the latter is a single site crossing two or more countries.

Apart from the concept of Serial and Tranboundary nominations, other World Heritage concepts and conventions were outlined and deliberated on at the meeting. The Action Plan had to take into accountant, and did, the “4Cs” adopted by the World Heritage Committee in their Global Strategy, namely, Credibility, Conservation, Communication and Capacity Building. Under credibility, concepts such as “heritage”, “authenticity” and “integrity” were debated and it was agreed that while the first was clearly understood, the last two had to be interpreted in the context of the Caribbean. Under conservation, the formulation of Management Plans, the procuring of funding, and the involvement of the community and both the public and private sectors, were seen as essential. Under communication, activities to promote the conservation of heritage were recommended. Under capacity building, it was agreed that this activity covers all of the institutional, legislative and operational arrangements involved in the process of heritage conservation, including the formal aspects of training and its impact at the community level.

The conclusion of the meeting saw the adoption of a declaration, the “Declaration of Castries” and a resolution, “Resolution on the Options Available to the Caribbean and the Small Island developing States (SIDS) of the region re: World Heritage Designation.” The resolution dealt with the possibility of using serial and transboundary nominations in these small states. The declaration called upon the World Heritage committee to approve the Periodic report for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Action Plan and Capacity Building Programme and to allocate the requisite funding, at their next (2004) annual meeting. The declaration also called on all Caribbean states to collaborate with each other in the implementation of the Caribbean Action Plan in World Heritage.

The National Art Gallery: Castellani House

Designed by Cesar Castellani, an architect of the Public Works Department, this building (and the New Amsterdam Public Hospital)is one of two surviving structures which were constructed by the Maltesian artist. His other noteworthy architectural masterpieces, the Alms House, was demolished and Our Lady of the Mount, Roman Catholic Church at Meadow Bank, East Bank Demerara was erased by fire.

Construction of this elegant three storeyed timber edifice, the residence for the Government Botanist, Mr. George Jenman, commenced in 1879. However, it is recorded that he was displeased with the design of the house and refused to occupy it until the changes to his desire were implemented. In 1882 the building was completed and Jenman resided there.

In later years this building was designated as the official residence for the Directors of Agriculture such as John Birchmore Harrison and Gavin Kennard.

Architect Lennox Hernandez provides an interesting description of the original building which had two floors only- ground and first- with high gable roofs pierced by gable dormer windows. The main body of the house had a centrally placed entrance on the west side, with galleries along the north and east sides at first floor level and an open porch below the northern gallery.

Over the years the design of the original building has been altered with the addition of a third floor in 1942 which resulted in the raising of the roof and the enclosure of the open porch. In 1965 the structure was further transformed by Guyanese architect, Mr. Hugh McGregor Reid.

For many years this was the official residence of President Linden Forbes Samson Burnham. During this period it was known to all Guyanese as ‘The Residence’.Heads of States and members and officials of the royal family were noteworthy guests who gathered here on many occasions for dinners and social events hosted by President Burnham and the First Lady, Mrs. Viola Burnham.

After his death in 1985, the building was left unoccupied for a short period. On 2 May 1993, after extensive repairs were undertaken by the government of Guyana, this structure was renamed Castellani House. It was here that the national art collection, which was founded in 1950, was housed after many years of repeated requests by Guyanese artists.

The late Dr. Dennis Williams remarked that the name Castellani House for this museum of fine art seems justified by historical fact. Whilst recognizing this thread of continuity in the Guyanese heritage, it acknowledges the unique value of the artist as an articulate bridge between generations.