Where exactly is Georgetown?

When Georgetown, is mentioned it is now accepted that surrounding areas such as Chili, Caratal, Dixon, Valley, Bay Road and all the other villages in the vicinity, are all Georgetown. However, Georgetown was originally a separate entity and first got its name in the early part of the 1800s.

The area stretching from Mt Young to the Caratal river (grand sable south river to the Grand sable north river) was all part of the Grand Sable Estate during the 17th and early part of the 18th century. There was no commercial centre on the windward side of the island.

With the sugar estates established and transportation problem partly resolved, Governor Brisbane, allocated 132 acres of the Grand Sable estate, in the early part of 1800, and named it Georgetown, in honour of King George the 3rd, the reigning monarch of England at the time. This area known as Georgetown stretched from the Caratal River to where Mrs Ertris Liverpool had her shop.

The Coronation park (Georgetown park) was opened in 1810 and The Holy Trinity Church was built in 1820 with money from the sales of the Caribs lands. Although it is uncertain when the areas known as BrownsTown, Caratal, Chili, Dickson and Obrien's Valley were developed, they were not named when Georgetown, was laid out.

Following emancipation 1838, many of the ex slaves who left the estates set up small holdings near to the estate boundaries. With the increasing population in and around Georgetown, there was a need for infrastructural development. The town may have been physically laid out but hardly anything seems to have been added during the early years of its existence.

As early as 1839, the town was still considered a desolate hamlet. The only things of interest worth mentioning was the church, a Grog shop,( a place where alcoholic beverages are sold by an unlicensed vendor) a magistrate residence and a tread mill for delivering punishment.

Grand Sable was the largest and most profitable estate in the country, why then was Georgetown so neglected?

The lack of progress may have been controlled by the hierarchies from the capital Kingstown, but it is more reasonable to believe that the estate owners intentions were not for infrastructural development, their plans were to get rich and spend their remaining days back in England as kings. The lavish compensation paid out to the planters failed to find its way back into developing West Indian island economies. Rather than using these funds to facilitate an effective transition from slavery to free labour, the planters invested them in the British bond and property markets. Most of the early estates profits were already deposited in England during the boom years of 1827, 28 and 29.

It is estimated that by 1890, St.Vincent had spent over £80,600 on Indian immigration. This was money that the colony could not afford, and services such as roads, health and education were neglected to finance immigration. In 1856, for example, no money was raised for education or for the hospital, as the money voted for these purposes was not available.  Funding for immigration took precedence even after 1863, when unemployment levels were high among creole labourers. 

Reverend Browne, the owner of Grand Sable estate, was forced by his creditors to sell parcels of land on the outskirts of George Town to raise money. House and garden plots here cost between sixteen and thirty pounds. Fortunately the emergence of peasant farmers benefited from the sale of estate land in the 1860s and slowly began to make their contributions. Labourers who had saved adequate funds began purchasing small plots of land,or leasing larger tracts to grow staple and export crops It was their contribution that helped to develop Georgetown and gave  it some respectability.

It was not until 1913 that the first motor car service from Kingstown to Georgetown was possible although the Byera tunnel was cut 100 years earlier. Electricity was introduced in Georgetown in 1953, but it was some time before most people could afford to have it domestically. It is said that the Baileys in Chili were the first to have electricity in the village. They were a well to do family and bought their own lamp post in order to get connected.

How some places got their names

Corbeau Town

An area in Georgetown, is affectionately known as Cobo Town, by some people. I for one would spell it this way but the correct spelling is apparently is "Corbeau Town". So how did this name come about? There are Two accounts. The first suggests that Grand Sable Estate, had the coast line as it's boundary. The garbage from the surrounding areas which was dumped near the coast line attracted a large number of birds especially of the species locally called Corbeau.

The other account is during the cholera epidemic on the island in 1854, many of the dead were buried in that area and the sanitation conditions which resulted attracted the scavenger Corbeau birds, (Jumbie Bird)Either way the name is linked to the Corbeau bird. The area was later referred to as "Brown's Town".


Chili Village

According to hear say, some early residence of St Vincent, emigrated to Chile, South America, and on their return settled in the area which they name Chili.


Adapted from the book by Edgar Adams "The Carib Country Sugar Estates and Georgetown"

Times were hard in Georgetown, and indeed throughout the whole country, during the early part of the Nineteenth century. One man living in Georgetown, at time recalled some of the drastic measures takenin order to survive.

In the army.mp3

Time was hard boy! Me and a friend use to break and suck cane together before we went to Georgetown school. We use to almost live in cane field. So one day he say "Man, ley we go and join the Army" me say who me? I could read and write but am not educated to where education is concern. He say "Man ley we tek a chance", he name Bertie Dominic. So we book our name, that was the end of 1943. When we go to St Lucia, and start to get the good food I use to feel nice and say the Army is heaven.

But where I regret I join the Army is when they say we had to go to a place in Egypt called Alexandria. But when we reach a place name Mauritius in the Indian ocean - the Queen mother brother was with us Lord Mountbatten. Anyway we wasn't too long there, then one day the commanding officer say "Good news boys, America dropped the atomic bomb on Japan and it brought them to an unconditional surrender, so we have to go back home. Me say thank God."

Progress Hall

What many of us know toady as Bishop's College, was once used as a sugar warehouse. It also served the community as a Cinema and Ball-Room. In recent times it has been refurbished and used as a Marion House and facility for special occasions.

This iconic Parish Hall/Progress Hall once the recreational home for the Holy Trinity Church has served the people of Georgetown, for over Seventy Five years. Many of us will have fond memories of using it at some point of our lives. It was a local trades man and master mason, Clyde Sutton, was overseer the building of Progress Hall. 

Some facts about Georgetown

The first casualty hospital was opened in 1894
Grand Sable was formally the home of the black Caribs
The first owner of the Grand Sable estate Thomas Brown,is buried in the Holy Trinity church yard
The first flag of SVG was designed by Mrs Elaine Liverpool of Georgetown
Progress Hall was Georgetown first cinema
Bishop's college Georgetown was formed in 1964
Mison Jones owned one the first social club in Georgetown "The Rainbow Terrace Night Club"
The night club Spotlight Stadium was first operated by Louise Corke
The Mt Bentinct Sugar Factory was closed in 1962
The first prime minister of SVG, Milton Cato, was born in Georgetown
A local builder Clyde Sutton, was the contractor who built the Progress Hall
 
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