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The Town of Curepipe – An overview

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The Town of Curepipe – An overview

Situated on the Central Plateau, at an altitude of 549 metres above sea level, Curepipe has a pleasant temperature but a rainy climate. It partly owes its extensive facilities and large residential areas to the malaria epidemics of the 1860s, which caused many well to do families to leave the warm but at the time then unhealthy area of Port-Louis for the cooler and healthier high plateau. Curepipe gradually became famous for its elegant dwellings, with typical colonial French architecture.

With a population not exceeding 80,000 today, Curepipe is a fast developing area, with numerous industrial zone, upmarket shopping. It is also an area favoured by tourists for items such as handmade ship models, duty free jewelry, Indian silk and cottons, Chinese embroideries, handicrafts and woollen jumpers etc. Its Jan Palach Bus Terminal is the largest in the country, with a traffic flow of 100,000 passengers per day. Numerous industrial estates have been established around the town.

Curepipe is surrounded by a green belt of forests and is the source of six main rivers. Its Botanical Gardens, as well as the Trou aux Cerfs crater from which a spectacular view of the Western coast of the Plaines Wilhems may be enjoyed are major attractions.

It is believed that the name Curepipe was first given to the area in 1817. At that time, the place was only a forest-covered or marshy land with few inhabitants. It was a relay station used by stage coaches travelling between Port-Louis and Grand Port, where travellers would relax and clean their pipe. Curepipe became a village in 1858, with 400 inhabitants. On the 27 March 1890, Governor Jerning- ham proclaimed the area a Town. The Town was to be governed by a Board of Commissioners. It then had a population of 12,000.

Governor Sir Charles Lees named Sir Virgil Naz as the first President of the Board, with Sir W. A. Edwards, Théodore Sauzier, Louis de Rouchecouste, Dr Ferninand Antelme and Victor Lamarque as the other members of the Board of Curepipe.

Major achievements of the first Board over time were:- a road network comprising of eighty entirely asphalted roads, erection of bridges, construction of drains, public gardens, a nursery at the Forestry Department, Carnegie Library, a slaughter house among others.

HISTORY

In 1878, the then Governor of Mauritius drew up a plan whereby Curepipe was named as The village of Curepipe. During that time, development was so lest with the increasing number of population and houses, roads and sidewalks built everywhere along with the growing number of schools, colleges, parishes, churches and other shops.

By 1882, the inhabitants of Curepipe started complaining of the haphazard development badly maintained roads no drainage system and absence of pavements. Sir Virgil Naz was shouldered the responsibility to find solution to the problems. He was personally not in favor of a municipality. He therefore along with a large majority of the inhabitants of Curepipe joined hands together and in 1889, succeeded in passing a law which created the Board des Commissaires de Curepipe. But after its creation, the Board had some fifty lamps placed along the roads.

By the end of 1889, through Ordinance No 12, announced that the village of Curepipe be raised to with dignity of a town and granted its constitution. The Governor, Sir Charles Lees named Sir Virgil Naz as the President of the Board with Sir W. A. Edwards, Théodore Sauzier, Louis de Rouchecouste, Dr Ferninand Antelme and Mr Victor Lamarque as other members of the Board of Curepipe. Major achievements of the Board were a road network comprising of eighty entirely asphalted roads, erection of bridge, construction of drains, public gardens, nursery at Bois et Fôret, Carnegie Library, slaughter house, Cité Pitot, Salaffa Shopping Centre, amongst others. By 1924 – 1925, a petition was launched by Doctor Curé to change the Board into Municipality. By 1925, this was accepted and the members resigned. Mr Emile Pitot was named as President with Mr René Maigrot, Honourable R. Gujadhur, Doctor Ferrière, Mr Octave Adam and Mr André Sauzier as members.

Each has been done by the Municipal Council since that date and at present the Municipal Council of Curepipe is one of the busiest towns and a high tourist destination.

By 1924-1925, a petition was launched by Dr Maurice Curé to upgrade the Board into a Municipality.

By 1925, this was accepted and the members resigned. Emile Pitot was named as President with René Maigrot, Honourable Rajcoomar Gujadhur, Dr. Ferriére, Octave Adam and André Sauzier as Members. In 1927, the Town consisted of what is known essentially as old Curepipe, with an area of 1,753 arpents or 739 hectares.

In 1960, the Town was further extended to include the area of Floréal which was developed following large-scale, morcellement, of lands belonging to the sugar estate, Réunion Ltd and Government Land north of La Brasserie Road. The extended area totaled approximately 977 arpents or 412 hectares. In 1963, some 772 arpents or 326 hectares made up of the village Council Area of Engrais Martial, Couvent de Lorette, Eau Coulée and Mangalkhan/ Riviere Sèche were further added to the township, increasing its population by 11,000.

In late 1968, Late Sir Gaetan Duval, QC, became the first Mayor of Curepipe.
The Municipal Council then consisted of 16 members.

With the extension of boundary limits, the township area increased from 3502 arpents (1478 hectares) to 5660 arpents (2390 hectares) or by 61.6%. The population increase, however, was only 6,962, or 10.6%.

In the 1980s, numerous new businesses were established in the textile, jewelry and model ship making areas. This resulted in susbstantial population growth, as many residents of the south moved towards the jobs in Curepipe.

A FEW LANDMARKS OF CUREPIPE

THE WAR MEMORIAL
At the gate of the Royal College of Curepipe is one of the most famous statue of the island, the War Memorial, with the inscription “To the Glorious memory of Mauritians who in the Great War gave their lives for the cause of Freedom and Justice’’.

Every year, a Remembrance Day Parade is held at the monument, in the presence of senior Government officials and survivors of the World War II ; 1939-1945

THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY
Built in 1920, the library is a gift from the famous “Carnegie Institute’’ of the United States. There are about seventy five thousands documents. There is also a unique collection of manuscripts relating the history of the Mascareignes. A friendly personnel is always ready to help researchers

THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
In 1913, the central Government gave some 27 acres of land to the ‘’Board of Commissioners” to create the Botanical Gardens. The Board built a magnificent garden by providing for as many rare trees as possible.

MOTTO AND COAT OF ARMS

COAT OF ARMS
The shield of the Arms of Curepipe is divided horizontally into two parts, the upper part being about one third and the lower part two thirds of the area of the shield. The field or background of the latter is divided into six wavy divisions flowing horizontally across the shield and coloured alternatively white and blue which is intended to represent the marshy site on which the town was built and placed there on is a spring of azalea leaves and flowers all gold recalling that the site of the town was once a field of azaleas.
In the upper part of the shield termed in heraldry ‘a chief’ is depicted a green mount or hill in allusion to the well-known Trou-aux-Cerfs crater, and this is ensigned of a blue eradicated mullet or star introduced not only for geographical significance but also to provide a sense of elevation as conveyed by the motto.
‘’Excelsus Splendeo” (Exalted I Shine) is, in traditional fashion, displays upon a scroll placed below the shield itself.

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