Letter to the editor-Harry Pare’s influence in Seychelles’ development


12-September-2012

While the programme was informative and well presented, I was disappointed to see that the cornerstone of the building, which carries in abbreviated form the name of the Governor at the time, the architect and the builder, is almost completely covered by some dark substance, which has made the lettering on the stone virtually unreadable.

SBC assisted viewers by superimposing on the screen the three names which were virtually obliterated. We say thanks for that, but one wonders why this important stone was not cleaned before filming. Perhaps it cannot be cleaned, we do not know, but whatever the reason its present condition does not say much for our care of historic buildings.

Incidentally, the name of the builder under the dirt and grime is H.A. Pare, or Harry Pare (pronounced Per), who was born in London in 1879, and who is a more important personage in the history of Seychelles than one might think. After studying marine engineering he joined the Royal Navy and served as an engineering lieutenant. In about 1904 his ship HMS Crescent called at Mahé, and Harry met Mr Hervey Bergne, surviving partner of Baty Bergne & Co, forerunner of the Union Lighterage Company.

Harry was so taken by Seychelles that on his return to England he resigned from the Navy and with his bride, daughter of the Archdeacon of Cape Town, he arrived in Seychelles to set up an engineering business. He and his family lived at Bel Air, and Harry quickly earned a reputation for the quality of his work. Described by the Governor, Walter Davidson, as “exceptionally qualified”, Harry was chosen to build the Carnegie Library, hence his name on the corner stone.
 
After the outbreak of the First World War, Harry and his family sold their business and returned to South Africa. Harry was the owner of considerable property in Seychelles, much of which he never sold. He died in Cape Town in 1943, and his family’s Seychelles connection was not renewed until his grand-daughter, Jennifer Wolf, visited Mahé in 2005 eager to see where her father, Harry’s second son, William, was born. Only then did she discover the prominent part her grandfather had played in the development of Seychelles in the early 20th century.

William McAteer


 

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