The Hand In Hand Building
“The year is 1865. Just twenty six years before, the former Dutch Colonies of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice were united under the name of British Guiana. With the energy and creativity for which the Victorian British were famous, British Guiana began to make remarkable strides in its social and economical development.
“By 1865, an efficient and honest administrative and judicial system had been established in the colony. The coastal road system had already been laid out and horse-carriages and riders plied these roads while the East Coast railway moved freight and passenger to and from Georgetown. The Brother Booker, later to be the main force in Guyanese economic life, ran a ferry across the Demerara River.
“Georgetown was expanding at a rapid rate and though landmarks such as the Stabroek Market, the Brickdam Cathedral and the City Hall were yet to arise, it was a clean, well-drained, healthy, well lit garden city of remarkable beauty. Its main commercial district- Water Street and its continuation, Lombard Street- had become one of the Caribbean’s great entrepots.
“Agriculture, and especially the sugar industry, was still expanding and Essequibo had many sugar plantations. Shiploads of immigrants from Asia and to a lesser extent from Europe and the Caribbean disembarked at Port Georgetown to supply the Colony’s growing labour needs and to create a novel multi-racial and multi-religious society which was later to evolve into the unique synthesis of modern Guyana.
“As commerce and industry expanded, there was the need for financial services such as Insurance. The mother country reaped handsome profits by providing such services. In the field of insurance, for example, English companies provided all marine, fire and life insurance policies for the Colony. The Insurance Industry appeared to be so mysterious and esoteric that no one in 1860 seriously believed that British Guyana could have an indigenous Insurance Industry.”
Picture: The Hand In Hand Building, Avenue of the Republic, Georgetown, Guyana