Buxton-Friendship

Guyana’s Premier Village

 

Theme for 2013: Milestones to Freedom: Resistance, Resolve, Emancipation & Entrepreneurship

The New Tipperary Hall

SOD-TURNING CEREMONY

A Brief History of Tipperary Hall

Delivered by Fitzroy (Rollo) Younge

His Excellency, the President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, Guests & Fellow Buxtonians. Good afternoon. My assignment today is to give you a brief but succinct history of Tipperary Hall, Buxton’s famed edifice.

Tipperary Hall was built in 1909 on this same site. The architect is unknown since the archives yield no information (Phyllis Bacchus—Architect/Consultant). The building which was erected in the colonial architecture style consisted of one storey and timber was used for its construction. The Hall was once the headquarters of the Buxton-Friendship Benevolent Burial Society. The descendants of the former slaves were fussy about the way their loved ones were buried. I cannot over emphasize the important role this Burial Society played in ensuring a proper funeral for the “dearly departed”. I must also mention that coffins for the dead were made in this building. This made it cost effective for relatives who could not afford the high prices charged by the Funeral Homes in Georgetown.

In 1911, the Society was registered as a Burial Society. The initial use of the building was expanded to include social, cultural, educational and political activities, not only for the people of Buxton-Friendship, but also the country at large. The building was inaugurated by the Chairman and Councilors of Buxton-Friendship local authority. Many of the Community’s essential social services were pioneered by the Benevolent Society.

In 1947, when Dr. Cheddi Jagan won his first seat in Central Demerara, Tipperary was a central meeting place. Supporters such as Byron Lewis, Doodnauth Tiwari, Edmund Jack (an elder), Balram Singh Rai (BV), Benjamin Profit (Plaisance), Bertha Harry, Veta Griffith and Rampersaud Sawh & his wife Jasmat (all Buxtonians), frequented this building.

In 1950, when the PPP was formed with LFS Burnham as Chairman and Cheddi Jagan as Leader, many decisions were made here.

In 1953, when the PPP won its first general elections under adult suffrage, Cheddi Jagan, Aston Chase, LFS Burnham, Dr. J.P. Latchmansingh, Jainarine Singh, Sidney King (now Eusi Kwayana) and Janet Jagan, the original first Government Ministers congregated here. It was also here that when Burnham attempted to seize the leadership from the pioneer, Cheddi Jagan, he met with strong resistance from the so-called ultra-left, Sidney King, Rory Westmaas, Martin Carter and others.

Tipperary was also notorious as the venue for Boxing Day Dances hosted by Teacher George Younge (my uncle). All classes of people come to Buxton on that day to show off their fine clothing. Orchestras such as Syncopators (Tom Charles), Washboards (Al Seals), Luckies and Hot Shots found this venue to be the best in the country. Of the revelers, Malcolm Parris said, “They were enchanted throngs of distinctly innervated but orderly revelers.”

In 1980, the building started to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance, age and the fact that people gained access to commercial banks; a factor that led to the downsizing of the Society which was responsible for the upkeep of Tipperary Hall. The last part of the building fell in 1998. In May 2009, a meeting was held by Mr. Charles Booker, coordinator, where 60 persons attended. The purpose was to make his mother’s (Aunt Jess) dream a reality that Tipperary Hall to be restored to its former glory.

We are gathered here this afternoon to take the most significant step in “The restoration of a modern Tipperary Hall” with the turning of the sod for the new building by His Excellency President Jagdeo. In welcoming the President, and in acknowledging the preparedness of his Government’s support to this important civic activity, I feel it necessary to attempt to deal with the unanswered conundrum, “Why Tipperary?” How was it possible that Buxtonians, 100 years ago could have chosen the name of an Iris Town for this important civic center? You see, Tipperary Town, as distinct from the County, was “The center of a rich agricultural region and an important farm market. 100 years ago, Buxton was the same. Buxtonians, we can again become the agricultural bread basket of this country. This is something that Agricultural Minister, Robert Persaud & Edgar Simon are tirelessly working on.

Mr. President, during your historic visit to Buxton on August 18, 2010, the rebuilding of a new Tipperary was among the many priorities that emanated from a needs analysis of the village. Today, the turning of the sod is happening. We, the people of Buxton are extremely grateful, not only for this proposed edifice, but for the steel band, the 20 computers, the School Feeding Program and the WOW loans which you had promised and have since delivered. We need more computers.

In closing, I must mention that there are people, some not even Buxtonians, who are whining saying that we should not accept government funds to restore Tipperary. Some are mortified that, against all predictions, the people of Buxton welcomed the President & his team with open arms. Fellow Buxtonians, these are the people who want to go backward rather than forward. We must continue to forcefully reject these demands. I want each of you to realize that as citizens of Guyana, it is our fundamental right, not a privilege, to access government resources to aid our community. We are not beggars of “Massa”. $M60 is not “a few pieces of dirty coins”, as they say. I see it as an Economic and Social development that should have been addressed a long time ago. This historic village and villagers have taken a bold step forward, and the few manufacturers of discord have been left behind.

What is happening today is deeper and more enduring. We are witnessing nothing less than the renaissance of this historic Village. Something great has begun today. Fellow Buxtonians, I am not going back to California until my mission is accomplished. My goal is to work assiduously with all of you to move Buxton forward without inciting punitive rhetoric against each other. It is time that we, as Buxtonians, begin the task of restoring not only Tipperary, but also this great Village.

In a quotation in the PPP’s Thunder News Paper in May, 1952, it says, “As Buxton Goes, So Goes the Country.” Mr. President, I would like for you to ponder on this quotation. You see, this quotation was said in this building during a very successful PPP meeting. The contemporary press sensed that Buxton, at that juncture, most accurately reflected the political organization and political consciousness in the country, and highlighted the victory as pointing the way forward for the entire country. The Thunder, perceptively recognized Buxton as the barometer of political opinion in Guyana. Even the LCP “Sentinel” at the time agreed the country should agree with this statement. This newspaper was an inveterate of the PPP. Take care of Buxton and the rest of the country will follow. As you leave office next year, you have the potential to become the most influential President of Guyana. You can leave an everlasting legacy in Buxton. Again, Mr. President, “As Buxton Goes, So Goes the Country.” What happened in Buxton in May, 1952 can happen throughout the country by 2011. Make no mistake about it.

Buxton can inspire this nation, Buxton must inspire this nation, and Buxton will inspire this Nation.

We can, we must, we will.!

Thank you.

**************

KAIETEUR NEWS                                6 September, 2009

 

The name “Tipperary” is synonymous with Buxton and the Village’s much talked-about social events, at least to the elderly and not so young. It was a name that rang out on the airwaves during ‘party time’ segments on Radio Demerara and the Guyana Broadcasting Service, and adorned billboards advertising the much anticipated excursions and other such events when all roads led to the village.

It was a place where many recall meeting their life mates, a place where the jury decided who had the best waltz, and, of course, who was the best dressed. Over the years, the hall had fallen apart and other venues took up the mantle.

Once the headquarters of the Buxton-Friendship Burial Society, the deterioration began with the advent of accessible banking institutions, as instead of persons pooling their resources in the village through the society, they were more inclined to put their money into banks. Hence, funds to maintain the building had to be sourced from its rental for dances and other social activities. But then when the big string bands went out of orbit, the nature of dancing changed, rendering lesser use of Tipperary Hall.

Built more than 80 years ago, today all that remains of Tipperary Hall are a few stumps, which are really no reminder of what used to take place at the Middle Walk, Buxton site. Hut there is a desperate effort to reconstruct the hall, and this is all being done to honour the legacy of those early Buxton residents, as well as to provide a centre that the new generation could cherish.

A group of Buxtonians, some of whom are domiciled overseas, has committed to the rebuilding of the edifice, which was named after a county in the Republic of Ireland in the United Kingdom, and already several processes have been initiated towards this end. Mr. Malcolm Parris, a former government minister, is one of those involved with the restoration project.

“There is a Chinese proverb which says: ‘The longest distance starts with the first step’ and we are making the first step this afternoon by rededicating ourselves...to the restoration of a modern Tipperary Hall,” Mr. Parris told a gathering at a special service [Sunday, 30th August] to kick start the project. The service was chaired by Dion Abrams, the nephew of one of the most famous dancers on the Tipperary Hall dancing floor.

Apart from the dances, Tipperary Hall was managed by the Buxton-Friendship Burial Society. According to Mr. Parris, the descendants of African slaves were very “fussy” about the way their loved ones were buried. And for this, many persons were associated with the Society. “This benevolent and burial society ensured that you had a proper burial. They wanted to be absolutely certain you received a good burial that they used to make their own coffins.” Parris explained.

In the earlier days, in the absence of electricity, many persons gathered at Tipperary Hall to listen to political speakers from the City. “There was Burnham, John Carter and Jagan. They all spoke at Tipperary Hall.” According to Mr. Parris, the restoration of Tipperary Hall is seen as part and parcel of the restoration of the entire village. He said that this is all happening when the village is currently being blessed with some positive vibes as against what was transpiring a few years ago.

Within recent times, Buxton has returned significant successes in the academic field, with many of its young residents excelling at the various local and regional examinations. “Now we’ve got to go for the spirit of the people, and Tipperary has to do with the spirit of the people.” Parris told Kaieteur News.

The new Tipperary Hall will not only be a dance hall. It will encompass a community centre complete with a library. There will be a series of fundraising activities to assist in the restoration project, and this will be supplemented by the contributions from Buxtonians overseas. According to Parris, The co-ordinators are hoping to complete the project by 2012.

Contact:

Buxton Heritage Group

Brooklyn, New York, USA

E-mail: lorna@buxtonguyana.net

E-mail: buxtonexpress@aol.com

 

 

An artist’s sketch of the old Tipperary Hall in Buxton.

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 Building Contractor: V.I. Graham Construction Co.

 Sod-turning Date: 20 December, 2010  /  Completion Date: 20 July, 2011

Opening Date: June 15, 212

                

President Bharrat Jagdeo presenting Mr. Victor Ivelaw Graham IPluck) receiving the Certificate of Contract

President Jagdeo (left), Grade 1 student, Javon Charles (centre), and 98-year old Mrs. Evadne Talbot perform the ceremonial turning of the sod.

Some of the many children present at the ground breaking event.

Artistic Impression

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