A legendary British marine engineer’s kin revisit the past

Sir Robert Bristow built the port of Kochi virtually out of nothing

April 22, 2014 12:32 pm | Updated May 21, 2016 12:47 pm IST - KOCHI:

Timothy John Bristow, Sir Robert Bristow’s nephew (left) with his family members in Fort Kochi on Monday.  Photo:Vipin Chandran

Timothy John Bristow, Sir Robert Bristow’s nephew (left) with his family members in Fort Kochi on Monday. Photo:Vipin Chandran

The family members of the legendary British marine engineer Sir Robert Bristow, who built the port of Kochi virtually out of nothing and reclaimed the Willington Island out of the Arabian Sea, took a walk down memory lane on Monday, visiting Mattancherry, Fort Kochi and their neighbourhoods as well as taking in the sights and sounds of the backwaters elsewhere in the State.

Sir Bristow’s nephew Timothy John Bristow, a senior official in the field of education in Britain; his wife Rebecca; their son Matthew James and his wife Kathryn Elizabeth Hardy were given a reception by West Kochiites on Monday.

Timothy John Bristow, son of Sir Bristow’s brother Robert Anthony, said that he was inspired by the work done by his uncle here in Kochi.

After his father, who was a chartered accountant, died two years ago, all the possessions of Sir Bristow came to him and this was the immediate inspiration for the current visit, he said.

The reception was, appropriately, organised at the Old Bristow Hotel, a boutique hotel that was formerly the residence of Sir Bristow between 1929 and 1941. The old light house and the residential unit used to be called the Beach Bungalow and remain intact with maintenance as an inspiration for the younger generations.

It was in this house that Sir Bristow began work on his autobiography ‘Cochin Saga’, which revolves around the work he did to build the port of Kochi. Mr. Timothy John Bristow said that he expected the attention being paid to the family visit to Kochi would also help revive interest in ‘Cochin Saga’. Sir Bristow (1880-1966), arrived in Kochi in April 1920 with a commission to build the Cochin harbour from the then Madras Governor Lord Willington.

Welcoming the Bristow family to the city were eminent Kochiites like Rufus D’Souza, former football star and now a popular football and hockey coach in Fort Kochi, who links most of his life to the Parade Ground. A. P. Satheesh, president of the Lotus Club in the city, founded by Sir Bristow was also there.

Mr. Satheesh said that Sir Bristow’s wife Gertrude was the first president of the Lotus Club, which was established in 1931 and opened its doors to all as a gathering place and exchange of ideas. The Lotus Club is also organising a reception for the Bristow family on Tuesday.

Kochi Mayor Tony Chammani and members of the Corporation Council K. J. Sohan and Anthony Kureethara were among those present.

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