From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Corporation Penal-Debe Regional Corporation
County St. Patrick
Country Trinidad and Tobago
Time zone AST (UTC−4)
Area code(s) +1868-447

Penal (originally Peñeraal of a Spanish origin) or पीनल is a town in south Trinidad and Tobago. It lies south of San Fernando and Debe, and north of Siparia. It was originally a rice and cocoa producing area but is now a rapidly expanding and developing town. The population is 12,281.[1]

The heart of Penal contains many businesses while the outskirts focus on agricultural development. Penal has a police station, branches of three banks (Scotiabank, Republic Bank and First Citizens Bank) health facilities, photo studios, fast food restaurants, service stations and clothing stores.

Penal plays a major role in the energy supply to the nation's populace. Petrotrin, the national oil company, has a major sub-unit in Clarke Road and the National Gas Company has gas lines running through Penal that links the gas fields of the South East Coast and the industrial estates. One of the countries three major power generating plants owned by Powergen Ltd is located at Syne Village to the west of Penal.

The area is known for the High Schools located in the Penal-Debe area. It is one of the areas in Trinidad that has the most schools. Debe and Penal is also known for the Doubles, Roti and Aloo-Pies, which are always packed with customers for delicious cuisine.

Penal is administered by the Penal-Debe Regional Corporation.


The Penal Power Station is situated at Syne Village, Penal, which is located in the heart of the oil belt. This site was chosen because of the abundance of cheap fuel (natural gas), which had very little commercial value at that time. Construction of the Plant began in 1950 with the establishment of an 11,400 Volt Busbar System and the installation of a 5,000 kilowatt Steam Turbo-Generator commissioned in 1953.

Water: for steam production and condenser cooling for the Plant is obtained from surface water collected from the (Penal) Moora Dam.

Boiler Unit: Steam for the steam turbine was supplied by a boiler rated at a steam flow of 60,000 lb/h (27,000 kg/h), steam pressure of 400 lbf/in2 (2,800 kPa; 28 kgf/cm2) and super-heater outlet temperature of 740 °F (393 °C). In 1955, another similar 5,000 kilowatt Steam Turbo-Generator unit was commissioned.

The year 1957 saw the addition of a 20,000 kilowatt Steam Turbo-Generator with its boiler rated at a steam flow of 240,000 lb/h (110,000 kg/h), pressure of 620 lbf/in2 (4,300 kPa; 44 kgf/cm2) and super-heater outlet temperature of 865 °F (463 °C).

With the anticipated expansion of the generating capacity of the Penal Plant, two important developments took place between 1958 and 1960: (i) a 33,000 volt (33 kv) Busbar System was installed; and (ii) The Mora Dam having a storage capacity of approximately 200,000,000 imp gal (910,000,000 L; 240,000,000 US gal) was built to accommodate the accompanying increased demand for water.

In 1960 and 1962, two other 20,000 kilowatt Steam Turbo-Generator units, with similar boiler ratings, were commissioned and went into service, bringing the total installed capacity of the Penal Power Station to 70,000 kilowatts (more commonly expressed as 70 megawatts, or 70 MW).

In 1976, two 20,000 kilowatt Simple Cycle Gas Turbine-Generator units were added, increasing the total installed capacity of the Penal Power Station to 110 MW and providing "Black Start Capability", which is the ability to start up independently of the power grid.

The largest development took place at the Penal Power Station during the period 1982 to 1985 with the construction of a 66,000 volt (66kv) Switch-house utilising Gas Insulated Switchgear (SF6) and a 196,000 kilowatt (196 MW) Combined Cycle Plant. This Plant consisted of two GE Frame7 Gas Turbines, each exhausting into a Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) and one GE Steam Turbine, having design steam conditions of 850 lbf/in2 (5,900 kPa; 60 kgf/cm2) and temperature of 950 °F (510 °C).

The present total installed capacity of the Penal Plant is now 236,000 kilowatts (236 MW)


Indentured labour from India began arriving in the colony in 1845. In order to establish and propagate a local source of cheap labour, they were offered a cash incentive of five pounds in lieu of a return passage between 1860 and 1880. The incentive programme was abolished since by 1880, Indians were fully 30% of the national population and therefore were established. Many Indians made use of their five pounds to purchase crown lands at one pound per acre. In the sugar-rich Naparimas, the south border comprised a series of poorly drained and mosquito-infested marshlands. These lands were surveyed by Warden of Siparia, Otto Radcliffe Clarke and sold to Indians who were expert at draining the marshes for the cultivation of rice. Watercresses were also grown in abundance and in a drier area of the swamp called the Pengyal (a Tamil word I am told), a small agrarian settlement had sprung up with enough Indians to warrant the Presbyterian Church's Canadian Mission to the Indians, setting up a school and chapel here in 1905. A mosque and cemetery also existed in the village in a place called Batchiya. The area was adjacent to hilly places to the south and east, being just four miles from Siparia. In these hills, small plots of cocoa cultivation began and soon flourished as a cash crop. Cocoa spread as far as a track laid out from the settlement to the Rock River in Moruga. Since the settlement had become Penal on government ordinance maps in 1910, the track was called the Penal Rock Road. On this road were several significant cocoa estates. One was owned by a Scotsman named McIntyre who established a prosperous holding, and constructed a lovely residence, complete with indoor plumbing (a marvel for those days) and archetypal gingerbread fretwork in 1918. His descendants, sired with an Indian woman, still live in the old family home. Another important estate was the property of the German, Wilhelm Meyer, who was stripped of his lands under the Enemy Alien Ordinance of 1914, which saw Germans in the island pressed into a concentration camp at St. James during the hostilities of WWI between Germany and England. Meyer's estate also had a quarry for gravel in a hilly area off the Penal Rock Road in an area called Morne Diablo or Devil's Mountain. This became the present Morne Diablo village. The estate was advertised for sale by Siparia warden, Otto Radcliffe Clarke in 1914. Along the Penal Rock Road, a Canadian Mission School was erected in 1920 for the children of the dozens of Indian families who settled and grew cane in the area. The peasant cane farmers had their cut canes carted to a scale in nearby Barrackpore where a terminus of the Usine Ste. Madeline railway existed.

Back in Penal, development came when the Trinidad Government Railway extended its line from San Fernando to Siparia in 1913. This was no mean feat of engineering since it meant pushing the line through marshy areas near the hamlet of Cooliewood (now called Gandhi Village) and Debe. The line had to be laid on a bank of gravel to raise it above floodwaters that rushed over the lowlands during the rainy season, and two strong bailey bridges were constructed over the Godineau and Curamata Rivers. Since the trajectory of the line passed a bit north of Penal, the Penal Railway station was almost a mile east of the main settlement on a road leading to cocoa and sugar cane growing areas in San Francique. The coming of the railway meant that vast quantities of rice and vegetables could reach the market in San Fernando and Penal flourished. In 1930 oil was discovered around Penal and in Barrackpore. A large tract of land on Clarke Rd. (named for Otto Radcliffe Clarke) was cleared and offices, bungalows, a medical centre, clubhouse and mess hall were constructed by United British Oilfields Trinidad (UBOT). Oil was secured in tank farms at Barrackpore, Penal Rock Road, San Francique and Clarke Rd. and then piped to the refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre. A small power plant supplied electric lights and a large dam was built in 1939 to supply the facility with water. Since the almost completely homogenous peasant Indian population of the area was inadequate for the brute labour of the oilfields, hundreds of negro labourers flocked in and formed a distinct neighbourhood in the area of Penal Rock Road ½ mile mark. Unlike Pt. Fortin where UBOT shared the better amenities of life with the native population, its presence in Penal had no impact whatsoever on the locals who continued without electricity and pipeborne water. In the early 1930s Bakal Bus Company serviced south Trinidad, one of the first transport services for the people. In 1939, Sunbeam Cinema was opened by Ramnarase Jagessar, powered by a Delco generator, and was later followed by Regent on Clarke Rd. in the 1940s. The latter catered mainly to the white expatriates of the UBOT installation (later assimilated by Shell) by showing the latest Hollywood flicks while Sunbeam aired primarily Indian movies. In the early 1950s, a market was constructed for the large number of produce farmers in the area. Previously, a makeshift market had occupied the triangle of land formed by the SS Erin Rd., Clarke St. and Penal Rock Road where a mall exists today. In 1962, Penal broke from Siparia Parish when the Penal RC. Chapel and School were opened along with the prestigious Holy Faith Convent for girls. Nearby on Clarke Rd. the state constructed the Penal Junior Secondary School at the back of Bakal sports ground about a mile northwards in Abdool Village, a government primary school was established. Penal grew by leaps and bounds in the 1960s and 70s both as a centre for the nearby oilfields and became famous for its Saturday market, which became something of an attraction.

In 1965, the railway closed, but the SS Erin Rd. had already replaced it as the main artery into the village. In 1990, Penal became its own municipality and ceased being part of the Ward of Siparia, when the Wards and Counties system of local government was dissolved and the Penal Debe Regional Corporation came into being. In 1985 the Saraswatti Vidyalaya Penal cultural school was established for development of the predominantly Hindu residents in the field of religion. This school was renamed Gurudev Sishya Niketan at the Silver Jubilee celebrations in the year 2009. In 2001, the Shiva Boys' Hindu College was established on Clarke Rd. Today, Penal is a bustling and growing commercial center that has outgrown surrounding towns such as Siparia and is a far cry from the sleepy village pictured in 1950.

Notable persons[edit]

Notable persons born or raised in the community:


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 10°10′N 61°28′W / 10.167°N 61.467°W / 10.167; -61.467