Somerset and Berks

Story and photos by Kenesha Fraser

The little village of Somerset and Berks sandwiched between New Road and Evergreen is “peaceful and quiet” according to residents. When Sunday Stabroek visited the area, almost everyone was indoors and the only school in the village – Somerset Nursery – was in session. However, along the public road in a well-fenced yard, Indal, popularly known as ‘Doctor’ was in the company of his friends.

Indal recalled that in the early years, the village was not

Indal (right) and his friends
Indal (right) and his friends

populated and had large bushes.  “For 55 years, I live in Somerset and I enjoy living here. Before now, we ain’t had any running water or electricity, much less telephones. I can remember we use to use flambeau and gas lamps. Now we so fortunate to have electricity.”

He added that there were two wells that were used to access clean water but the water that was used for domestic purposes came from a nearby canal.

“You see the bridge there over the canal? It was a wooden one but lately we get this new one here. I always like living here. I went to a lot of other places and I realize that here is the best place to live.”

When asked if there was a school in the village in the early years, Indal said no, and explained that the only schools were in Charity approximately two-and-a-half miles away from Somerset.

“We use to walk to school and it didn’t had no car or anything to give us a drop, and in them times the sun use to be very hot.”

Sumerset Nursery school
Sumerset Nursery school

It is fortunate that the villagers now have potable water, electricity, a telephone service and an abundance of vehicles to take them from one place to another (forget walking long distances!).

Indal, who is now a farmer sells his produce in retail quantities but said he is “having a hard time to sell the things them because people want to buy them cheap.” He is hoping that a government complex can be built to facilitate farmers in selling their produce.


Another resident, Omadevie Lalman was in her shop, and told Stabroek News, “I only lived here for four years but so far it has been nice. This is a lovely village but the only thing that really bother us here is that we get flooding when the rain falls and we also get constant blackouts.”

No one knew how the village got its name and one   resident remarked that it’s a “mystery.” However, most  likely the name has its origins in a plantation owned by an English planter, since Somerset and Berks (short for Berkshire) are two English counties.

Smiling for the camera
Smiling for the camera

The young people who live in the village are employed as teachers or labourers while the others are still school-age. Most of the men are rice farmers who spend their days in the fields.

According to the residents, there is a great need for a playground so the youths can be involved in more physical activities.

A rice field in the village
A rice field in the village

The majority of villagers were shy and declined to be interviewed, but along Sideline Dam, this newspaper encountered a lively 80-year-old lady, Deenmattie “Deena” Indari, who was happy to share her experiences about living in the village.

“For 25 years I live in this place,” she told Sunday Stabroek, and I never think about going and live anywhere else. When I first move here from Lima, the place had plenty bush.

“If you see them bush we had to cut down to build we house. As for water, we use to get from the main canal to do everything – drink, wash, cook and so.”

A shop in the village
A shop in the village

Deenmattie added that the roads were deplorable and the streets were muddy especially when it rained.

“When I deh young, I use to mine plenty cows in order to look after my children. It didn’t had any pasture here so me use to go and graze the cow them in the blazing sun.”


Deena and her granddaughter
Deena and her granddaughter

As a young woman, Deenmattie said, she and her friends walked to Charity to go to school and to the market, and she especially enjoyed swimming in the canal near her home. Now in her spare time she enjoys planting a little kitchen garden which has blossoming ochro plants.

A notable structure that still stands tall in the village is the now abandoned rice mill which according to a resident was built over 30 years ago and was one of the first mills to be erected along the Essequibo Coast. No one in the village seemed to know who the owner of building was, but it is usually referred to as ‘Silo.’ This mill processed the rice crop in the early years but was given over to Caricom Rice Mills.

The abandoned rice mill
The abandoned rice mill

The mill which has apparently been forgotten is now left to shelter homeless cats, dogs and rodents.

Somerset and Berks consists of about 150 persons and residents said there is no crime in the village.

Somerset Sideline Dam Well Station
Somerset Sideline Dam Well Station

Most of the residents attend the temple in a nearby village since there is none in Somerset. The school children attend Somerset Nursery, Anna Regina Secondary, 8th of May Secondary or the schools in Charity. The closest hangout spot is in Charity.

Garbage is usually burned or buried by residents.

The ambassadors group with UG Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith (seated fifth from left)

UG needs emergency $$ to prevent collapse

A conference of local and diaspora stakeholders of the University of Guyana (UG) has called on the government to provide emergency funding to the institution to reverse its “imminent collapse”.

Sattaur Gafoor in the temporary office which was set up after the fire

Gafoor’s, insurers in ‘stalemate’ over Houston Complex repairs

There is a “stalemate” between Gafoors and its insurance underwriters over how to proceed on a building that was damaged in the massive fire at the company’s Houston Complex last month but some reconstruction has started.


Duo stole over $31M in electronics from Digicel

Two men were yesterday charged with stealing over $31 million in electronics belonging to Digicel Guyana Incorporated. Albert De Freitas, 27, and Basdeo Sackoon, 26, appeared before city magistrate Dylon Bess charged with stealing a total of $31,107,510 in items from the telecoms company.

default placeholder

Driver gets one year in jail for causing boy’s death

A man was yesterday sentenced to one year in jail after being found guilty of three offences, including causing the death of an 11-year-old child by dangerous driving.

default placeholder

Gov’t support for city’s financial measures to hinge on transparency, public interest

President David Granger on Monday said that central government’s support for the city’s measures to make itself financial sustainable would rest on transparency and the public’s interest.

default placeholder

Man arrested over ISIS bomb threat at city bank

A man was yesterday morning arrested after he entered a city bank and demanded $10M under the name of Islamic State (ISIS) before threatening to explode a bomb that he claimed he had on him.

default placeholder

‘What’s in the cup, stays in the cup’

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Clement Rohee says “What’s in the cup stays in the cup,” in response to a question on whether the matter involving PPP/C Member of Parliament (MP), Nigel Dharamlall over threats he allegedly made, has been explained to the party’s satisfaction.

Carlton Beckles

Lethem Council sees agro-processing focus for Industrial Site 

The first municipal council of Lethem, Region Nine sees agro-processing as a key focus for the Lethem Industrial Site. Mayor of the recently commissioned township of Lethem, Carlton Beckles told GINA that the completion of the industrial area, with an emphasis on agro-processing is among priorities that the council has set to accomplish before it demits office.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: