Knollys Tunnel, near Rio Claro in south-east Trinidad, was named after the then acting Colonial Governor of Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Clement Courtenay Knollys KCMG), who officially opened the new railway tunnel on 20th August 1898. The Official Governor at the time was Hubert Edward Henry Jerningham (1897 to 1900) whose name was given to the line’s Junction (Jerningham Junction) where the Rio Claro Line left the Southern Main Line. The opening of the tunnel not only celebrated a railway link with Tabaquite less than a mile beyond the tunnel, but the engineering of the tunnel itself which, at 660 feet in length, was by far the longest in Trinidad. Over 220 people, including several high ranking dignitaries, turned out to witness the ceremonial opening.
The Rio Claro line closed the same day as the San Fernando line on 30th August 1965. On that day emotions ran high during the passage of the last train when the people of Caparo, angry because of the decision to discontinue their rail service, stoned the train and blocked the line at Jeffers Halt. It was by far the most violent reaction to the closure of the railway, but in many ways mirrored the true sentiment of a population who wanted it retained but did not use it enough for it to survive. The Rio Claro line was only 67 years old when it was closed.
After many years of neglect Knollys Tunnel was partially restored by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. On Tuesday 13th August 1991, then the Honourable Minister of the Environment and National Service, Dr. Lincoln Myers, reopened the tunnel as a national heritage site.
Both of the original commemorative plaques have been removed from the tunnel entrances. A replica plate has been refitted at the southern portal.
20 August 2018 marked 120 years since the official opening of Knollys Tunnel.
Property of interest is a 660 foot long tunnel located on Union Road in the town of Tabaquite, approximately two kilometres south of the Caparo Valley Brasso Road and Union Road junction.
Address: Tabaquite Main Road
Region: Couva – Tabaquite – Talparo
Site Type: Cultural Heritage
Public Accessibility: Full Access
Listing Status: Stage 8 – List published in the Gazette and Heritage Site listed on Index of Listings at the Registrar General. Listing Completed & Heritage Site Protected Under the Act
Grade: Grade A – an object or artifact made by man that is rare or unique or considered to be a fine crafted example of its kind;
Cultural Community: British
Site Features: Railway Sites
Tabaquite Main Road, Tabaquite, Couva – Tabaquite – Talparo