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Willingdon Island

Willingdon Island is the home of the modern port that serves Kochi in Kerala, India. It is a man-made island created from the materials dredged while deepening Kochi Port, it's in Ernakulam district of Kerala in south India. It's named after Lord Willingdon, the erstwhile governor of Madras who had a hand in the project. Robert Bristow, the chief protagonist and engineer for the project owned the first building on the island.

The first liner, which belonged to the Bibby Line, arrived at the island on the 9 March 1935. A port hostel had been purposely built to accommodate any passengers who wished to rest for a few nights. The hostel was soon afterwards named the Malabar Hotel.

All the pre-planned basic port structure was completed in 1939, just in time for the Second World War. A deep wharf, a rail bridge and a road bridge to the mainland provided valuable infrastructure for the local war effort. A naval works was also constructed on the adjacent Venduruthy Island to the south, where by the end of the war they were busily constructing landing craft for the presumed invasion of Japan. In 1940 a passenger jetty and customs house were built adjoining the hotel, together with a passenger platform and rail siding.

The Royal Air Force quickly found use for this flat expanse of conveniently located virgin territory, and constructed a large aerodrome. The man-made isle thus became a thriving military base. The Malabar Hotel provided quarters for all the wartime staff and the building gained a new administrative block next door to it. A new post office, an open-air swimming-bath between the hotel and offices, and a branch bank adjoining both, completed the amenities. When the British withdrew in 1947 they left behind an indispensable and significant transport hub. During its short colonial tenure the island had handled at most one million tons of freight, by 1960 this had almost doubled. The island aerodrome was extensively developed and became the city’s modern airport. Nowadays Cochin has an international Airport at Nedumbassery, 30km north-east of the twin-city Cochin/Ernakulam. The remaining space on the island was quickly utilized in the 1950s, and far from being an unnatural appendage of the picturesque and ancient city, the isle, left behind by the British so soon after its completion, became the commercial heart of the ancient metropolis of Cochin.

It is a major port in India, and a landmark in the city of Kochi, Kerala. It serves as a link between the other sea ports of the world. Willingdon Island is connected to the mainland by the road and railway Venduruthy Bridge. Southern Naval headquarters is located at this charming island. Cochin shipyard is also located near this island. It is also a major tourist center. Willingdon Island today plays an important role in the city of Kochi and houses some of the district's best hotels, commercial and industrial offices.

Apart from these, it is here that the airport used to be positioned (until it was moved to present location in Nedumbassery near Kochi) along with the shipbuilding yard, wharf, the Southern Naval Command Headquarters and the customs house. Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industries has been strategically placed here, as is the Government of India Tourist Information Office in the vicinity of the airport. This island is a hub of activity with a number of offices, branches of national and international banks, travel agencies and souvenir shop warehouses and one cannot possibly miss visiting the place while being in the city of Kochi.

Coordinates: 9°57′N 76°16.5′E / 9.95°N 76.275°E / 9.95; 76.275



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