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THE MAN BEHIND KNOLLYS TUNNEL - SIR CLEMENT COURTENAY KNOLLYS, K.C.M.G. 1849-1905

THE MAN BEHIND KNOLLYS TUNNEL - SIR CLEMENT COURTENAY KNOLLYS, K.C.M.G. 1849-1905

Image Courtesy: Besson, Gérard. The Angostura Historical Digest of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago, W.I., Cascade: Paria Publishing Company Limited, 2001. p. 305.

 

 

 

Hidden in the picturesque village of Tabaquite is “Knollys Tunnel” the largest man-made tunnel found in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Named after Sir Clement Courtenay Knollys, “Knollys Tunnel” was built in 1898  entirely out of concrete, and its purpose was to expand access for the growing Cocoa Industry in  Tabaquite via the Trinidad Government Railways (TGR),  making it cheaper to transport across the island. 

 

knollys-tunnel-exter...

The majestic Knollys Tunnel.  Images Courtesy: Heritage Library Division (HLD). National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago: Railway Tour. Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain: National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS), 2011. CD ROM.

 

This magnificent structure designed by the then Director of Public Works,Walsh Wrightson,   

was an extension of the Caparo Valley Train Line.  It took two hundred (200) workers and almost two (2) years to complete.  Knollys Tunnel measures approximately six hundred and sixty feet (660ft) in length and was constructed through a hill in the Central Range.

 

The maiden run on the Caparo Valley Line occurred on Saturday 20 August 1898. On that day, a train carrying 220 eager passengers,  many of whom were dignitaries, left the Port of Spain Railway Station for the journey through this country’s only tunnel.  The tunnel was christened “Knollys Tunnel” after the then acting Governor Sir Clement Courtenay Knollys.  

 

Born 24th March 1849, Sir Knollys was appointed Sub-receiver and Harbour Master of San Fernando on the 2nd June 1874. He was transferred to Barbados in 1880 and returned as  Colonial Secretary to Trinidad in 1894. He was first appointed to act as governor during the 20 September 1894- 7 November 1894 in the absence of then Governor Sir Hubert Edward Henry Jerningham, KCMG. He would go on to act as governor for several periods after this. It was during one such acting tenure that the TGR’s tunnel was completed and as such “Knollys tunnel” was named in his honour.

While Knollys’s Tunnel stands as a testament of the contributions made by the TGR to  the development of Trinidad and Tobago, it also pays homage to a civil servant, colonial administrator, and governor (A.g.) Sir Clement Courtenay Knollys. Without such a monument, his name may have been lost in the annals of Trinidad and Tobago’s history. 

 

To discover more on Trinidad and Tobago’s rich history, follow the Heritage Library Division on Facebook @NALISHLDTT or email  asknalis@nalis.gov.tt.

 

Author: Heritage Library Division, Librarian I, Ms, Jancie Regis

 

Copyright of  photographs held by NALIS, reproduction and distribution without written permission is prohibited.

 

References:

Anthony, Michael. Historical Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago. Lanham, Md.; London: The Scarecrow Press, 1997. p. 331.

Besson, Gérard. The Angostura Historical Digest of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago, W.I., Cascade: Paria Publishing Company Limited, 2001. p. 305.

Heritage Library Division (HLD). National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago: Railway Tour.

Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain: National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS), 2011. CD ROM.

Regis, Jancie. Trinidad’s Iron Horse. Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain: National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS), 2018.

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