Sir William Denison: Great Minds

Sir William Thomas Denison (1804-1871) was a Governor of Tasmania and New South Wales before becoming the Governor of Madras in 1861. He was briefly the Governor General of India in 1863. His initial years in Madras were taken up by reforms in the Indian army following the 1857 rebellion. An engineer by training, Denison involved himself with the irrigation and public works in the presidency. Denison took an interest in science and supported studies on the natural history of India.

Denison visited the Nilgiri hills several times and stayed in Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri. He was the first to moot the idea of the annual migration of the Madras Government to the Nilgiri Hills. He went as far as to suggest the abolition of the Government House at Madras and purchasing a house at Ootacamund for the permanent residence for the Governor. The annual summer exodus of the Madras government to Ooty started in 1870.

He also initiated steps for town improvement which later resulted in Ooty and Coonoor being declared as Municipalities in 1866. Denison ordered the formation of eucalyptus plantations around Ooty to meet the fuel needs of the growing town. Aramby shola, planted in 1863, was the first of these. The governor also took keen interest in the cinchona plantations which were being created then.

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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