NOSTALGIA….Wismar/Christianburg/Upper Demerara River
By Peter Halder – firstname.lastname@example.org
Living in the Upper Demerara River District was a lasting, memorable and wonderful experience. I was not yet 21. The experience influenced my future life. In my opinion, it was the best working experience in my life. My knowledge of people, responsibility, the law, the district and the beauty of friendship was a treasure beyond compare. Georgetown was tame when I returned to it from my tenure.
Christianburg was my home from 1957-1960. The time I spent there is still etched in my memory. It was an unenviable and unforgettable experience of what living in a mining area was like, especially when everybody knew everybody, and the males greatly outnumbered the females.
Christianburg was part and parcel of the Wismar-Christianburg- Silvertown- Silvercity- Wismar Hill area on the left bank of the Demerara River, opposite the then booming bauxite mining town of Mackenzie, now Linden. It was the District Administration centre for the Upper Demerara River District that extended from Kamuni Creek opposite and Princess Caroline adjacent to Atkinson Field, now Cheddi Jagan International Airport, southwards to Cannister Falls and the border with Brazil. An estimated 30,000 people lived in the Mackenzie -Wismar-Christianburg-Silvertown-Silvercity-Wismar Hill area.
Upper Demerara District
The Upper Demerara River District was a sub-district of West Demerara Administrative District and was under the direction and control of the District Commissioner for West Demerara whose Office was located at Vreed-en-Hoop (really Pouderoyen) , West Bank Demerara, obliquely opposite the B.G. Match Factory. The District Commissioner in 1956 was Mr. James Albert Sholto Douglas and he was replaced by Mr. Ramsingh Rai.
Shortly after I joined the D.C.’s Office, Sproston’s Limited at Lombard and Broad Streets completed the construction of a steel motor-launch, the MV Rita C. The launch was named after the D.C.’s wife. I attended its launching. The Rita C was for use in the Upper Demerara River District.
I was elated and excited when, in 1957, District Commissioner Rai informed me that I was being transferred to the District Administration Office, Christianburg. I so wished to travel on the Rita C along the Demerara River and moreso to celebrate life and living in the lebensraum of Mackenzie of which I had heard so much when growing up. It was described as having an unfettered culture where entertainment and partying were the very essence of the local lifestyle. I had a taste of it just once. Alas, it was all too brief but it was indelible. To borrow a few words from Sparrow’s “The Congo Man”, I “wanted more.”
The taste came about in unexpected manner. I was at a sub-party in Campbellville one Saturday night and I had the pleasure of meeting the Hinds sisters, Claudette and Hyacinth, from Greenheart Street, Mackenzie. They were attending School in Georgetown and were leaving shortly for London, the eldest to get married and the younger to study nursing. The latter’s upcoming birthday was being celebrated at Mackenzie with a party and she invited me to it. I seized the opportunity with both hands. I accepted the invitation and also got permission to invite my gang from GT.
The Thursday ( Holy Thursday) before the Saturday night Birthday Party, with my suitcase containing my dark grey double-breasted grey suit,etc., in hand, I got a ride to Sproston’s Stelling, bought a return Ticket to Wismar and boarded the MV. R.H. Carr. I had never ventured on any long river trip before. I did travel on the MV Queriman daily to and from Vreed-en-Hoop. My gang proposed to travel on Saturday, arriving at about 5.30 p.m., celebrate through the night, and board the R.H. Carr next morning to return to GT….. more … click link below
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