March 1965

Mosque as seen from Shakey rice mill – Rose Hall Village

Last month (August 2017) Rose Hall celebrated its 175th anniversary since 57 freed slaves bought the abandoned plantation from English planter John Baird. It was fitting that the JC grads chose that month to hold their 2017 Guyana reunion. It is also fitting that the reunion was graced by the presence of Guyana’s Prime Minister Hon. Moses Veerasammy Nagamootoo and his wife Mrs. Sita Mary Nagamootoo.

My personal view is that Rose Hall as a village was far more interesting than Rose Hall as a town. I decided to find out more about Rose Hall Village. Most of the information below was provided by Yamonee Barboro and her mom Mrs. Evelyn (Hanoman) Jairam. Yamonee told me she was proud to see the school flag being carried through Rose Hall and through the Chandisingh street with appropriate pomp and panoply. It caused her to reflect on the good old days of growing up in Rose Hall.

One of the photographs I posted was taken at the Rose Hall cemetery and shows the mosque in the background. Yamonee sent me a photograph taken in the 1960’s which also has the mosque in the background. According to her mom that mosque was there since forever. There was also a Hindu temple nearby which was run by a pandit named Lal Maraj. Pandit Maraj’s son Harrilall Sharma was a teacher at Corentyne High School in the mid-1970’s. Mr. Sharma is now a full-time pandit living in Mahaicony.

Rose Hall, for better or for worse, is a far cry from what it used to be. I don’t know if the street where Mr. Chandisingh lived has a name. I don’t think it does. For those who do not know where this street is, it is the street opposite the Rose Hall arch. It runs between the Bank and where Raghunandan’s store was and takes you in the direction of the cemetery and cane fields. This street was probably the second most important street in Rose Hall in the long-ago years.

At the head of the street used to be the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The SDA church gave way to Royal Bank of Canada which is now Republic Bank. Next door to the SDA church was the Kedaroo family store and upstairs was the Pitman’s Commercial School run by Mr. Mangal. All the Kedaroo children and some of Mr. Mangal’s children attended CHS. Mr. Rudra Nath lived right behind Royal Bank.

On the other side of the street was the Rose Hall village office and next to it was Raghunandan’s store which was destroyed by a fire which started at the Dharry’s Store next door. Harry Lall was the Village Overseer in the 1960’s. His children were Gerald, Joan, and James. Harry Lall was the brother of Sister Ivy whose husband Rev. Baiyo Armogum was the pastor of the Church of God opposite the Scott School. Their son Paul Armogum (dec’d) attended CHS. Sister Ivy passed away recently. Some of the other well-known families who lived along this street were: Chandisingh, Outar, Shivcharran, Branco, Rahaman, DeSouza, Kudrath, Latchman, Hanoman. Teacher Olive who taught piano and also ran a nursery school also lived along this street. Many of the children and grandchildren of these families attended CHS.

Church of God - 2017

There were two modern multi-stage rice mills down this street. One was owned by Yamonee’s grandfather Shakey Hanoman, the other was owned by Kudrath. Gafoor’s store and warehouse now stand where the Kudrath rice mill was. There was a lemonade factory, which I think was called Rahaman’s soda factory. Nearby was the pumping station and overhead water tank which supplied the whole of Rose Hall village with drinking water. It also provided water for the three rice mills of Rose Hall, the third rice mill being along the public road at the head of the CHS school street. It was owned by Budhram, the same guy who owned Roopmahal Cinema. The street also had Percy Veerapen’s cakeshop, and Tom Ramoo’s joinery shop. Sheriff was the go-to guy for anyone suffering from “narah”. He was the equivalent of what we today would call a chiropractor. Many an afternoon Mr. JC Chandisingh would be seen riding down the street as far as the rice mills. JC’s wife would also take afternoon walks down the street as far as the rice mills. Many times she would drop in to chat with Yamonee’s mom or grandmother (Grandma Dandus ) and exchange recipes.

Mention has been made of the Rose Hall cemetery. Actually there were two cemeteries. One for Muslims, the other was for the other denominations. Beyond the cemetery was a place called “Cross Dam”. Cross Dam was a cattle, rice field, and farming area. Niranjan held the largest holdings in this area. Another popular family was the Dass family. The Dass family, which included Gally (who became my neighbor in Hampshire after she got married to Ramjass) used to sing on the radio. There was a street known as “Chinee Lane” which was famous for its beautiful girls.

On the occasion of the 175th anniversary of founding, we pay homage to the founding elders, and to all those who have contributed to the town’s prosperity.

Rishi Singh