Nelson Island – History Rich

Nelson Island

Nelson Island can be found in the gulf of Paria to the west of Port of Spain Trinidad.

It is the largest of five small islands making up, The Five Islands, (Caledonia, Craig, Lenagan, Nelson, Pelican and Rock).

Nelson Island played a big part in Trinidad’s history, and the slave trade in the eighteen hundreds.

Nelson Island Registration Building
Nelson Island Registration Building, where the slaves were registered. Built in 1802 by the African slaves.

On the Island there are four buildings, dating back 1802.

It is said that African slave built them, these structures stand strong to this day.

Among the buildings are the holding bay or jail used for detaining prisoners.

The registration office, used to register the slaves as they where brought in on boats.

The Mess Hall, used for gathering and having meals.

Remains of Marion Hospital

Also there are ruins of the base Marion Hospital, where slaves where checked out after they long journey at see, before they were cleared for the main land.

They were then taken to estates on the main land Trinidad.

Nelson Island Court Yard
Nelson Island Court Yard

Nelson Island is famous as the disembarkation point and quarantine station for indentured immigrants to Trinidad and Tobago in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Among the immigrants that passed through the island, were the Indian, Jews, Africans and Chinese.

In the 1930s Nelson Island was used as a detention center for prisoners, among these were Tubal Uriah Butler.

Remains of a Gun Turrent.
Remains of a Gun Turret, at the highest point of the island at 50 metres above sea level.

During World War II, the Americans built a gun emplacement at the eastern end of the island and a causeway to Rock Island to the west.

Ruins of the gun’s structure can still be seen at the highest point of the island.

Nelson Island became a detention center again in 1970 following the Black Power Revolution.

Among those who were detained there were Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president George Weekes, National Joint Action Committee leader Geddes Granger, Apoesho Mutope, Winston Suite and Clive Nunez.

Visitors can tour the Island and search the lists of indentured immigrants to identify ancestors or walk through the jail cells that held those detained on the Island.

Nelson Island
Nelson Island

View exhibits and ruins, walk along scenic trails and take photos by gun bunkers among the other adventure at the Nelson Island.

Contact the National Trust for more information at:

Sterling Building 68-70 Sackville Street, Port of Spain

Phone: 1(868) 225-4750

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