Nelson Island, the place which once served as the detention centre of some of the most famous citizens of our country, is about to be refurbished as part of a comprehensive restoration project by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. The project will be officially launched on Friday, August 17th at a special ceremony on the island, by Senator the Honourable Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Joan Yuille Williams. Once the restoration is completed, the island promises to become a vibrant and thriving source of eco-friendly and historical tourism, not just for foreign visitors but for the people of this nation as well.
The history of this heritage site is a checkered and fascinating one…
The name of the island comes from Neilson, a British citizen who was regarded as its proprietor. Its first buildings were built in 1802, by enslaved Africans and in 1866 it was established as a point of disembarkation for indentured Indians. During the 2nd World War, all persons with Austrian or German passports, largely Jews, were interned on the island. Also interned during the 2nd World War was Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler. More recently, in 1970, it was the place on which several political detainees were held. Amongst them were George Weekes, former head of the OWTU, Makandal Daaga, head of the NJAC, Kafra Kambon, head of the Emancipation Support Committee and Efebo Wilkinson, poet and former Permanent Secretary.
In the coming weeks, members of the public will be provided with information about the progress of the restoration, as work continues apace to restore this beautiful aspect of our national patrimony.