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Presidency: Madras
Coordinates: 11.855300°N 75.361615°E
Present Day Details
Place Name: Kannur
State/Province: Kerala
Country: India
Transport links
Madras Railway, which became South Indian Railway

Kannur is on the Malabar (west) coast, north of Tellicherry and south of Mangalore. It was the British military headquarters on the west coast until 1887.

The station at this town was on the Madras Railway which became the South Indian Railway broad gauge (BG) 'Jalarpet-Mangalore Mainline'

The cantonment was located at Burnshire (now Burnacherry).

Spelling Variants

Modern name: Kannur
Variants: Cannanore, Kananore, Kananur, Connanore, Cannonore, Canonor, Cananor, Cananoor, Canamore
Modern name: Burnacherry
Variants: Burnshire, Burnachery, Burnassery


The fort chapel, now ruins.

Cannanore was an early Portuguese settlement, Vasco de Gama landing there in 1498 on his way home from Calicut and a factory and colony following soon afterwards. In 1505, Francisco de Almeida (the first Portuguese Viceroy of India) founded St Angelo's Fort. In the 1660s the Dutch took control of Cannanore, but they relinquished power in the 1770s. In the following decade the British invaded the town when the Bibi captured 250 soldiers en route to the fight against Tipu Sultan. As the west coast headquarters Cannanore was a flourishing trade centre, third only on the west coast to Bombay and Karachi, but when the HQ moved to the Nilgiris in 1887, its significance and prosperity waned.


St Angelo's Fort

Built by the Portuguese in 1505, the triangular fort was captured by the Dutch in 1663 and held until 1771 when it was sold to the Ali Raja. The British seized it in 1790 and the fort subsequently became a central part of British military operations on the Malabar coast.

The fort is in the cantonment area of Cannanore. It is also known as Cannanore Fort.

Chemical Defence Research Establishment

Spelling variant: Defense

During the Second World War from 1944, Cannanore was the site of a Chemical Defence Research Establishment CDRE carrying out research connected with mustard gas. (Previous test sites were at Rawalpindi, then Devlalli or Deolali near Nasik.) Connected with this project, there were also a Royal Air Force contingent. The two field ranges where Chemical Warfare tests were conducted were at Kumbala and Porkhal.[1]

Churches and missions

St John's Church
  • St John's Church - Anglican
  • Holy Trinity - Catholic
  • Basel German Mission


Malabar: Christian Memorials 1737-1990, by Dr John C. Roberts and N P Chekkutty, is a book on European gravestones and church memorials in the Malabar towns of Cannanore (Kannur), Tellicherry (Thalassery) and Mahe, which has details on the Portuguese, Dutch, French and English gravestones in the region. For more details about the book, see Cemeteries and monumental inscriptions reading list. For background details, see External links, below.

The book covers burials at the St Johns Anglican Church, the Holy Trinity RC Church and the German Basel Mission cemetery in Cannanore. The book also has details on the European regiments and native troops stationed at the Cannanore Cantonment and details on deaths in the armed forces.


  • St Michael's Catholic Boys School - founded 1807
  • St Theresa’s European Middle School - founded in 1867 by the Rev. Fr. Louis Mari Martelli then run then by the sisters of St. Joseph’s of the Apparition



Cannanore was an intermediate station on the Calicut to Mangalore section of the Madras Railway.

External links



Historical books online


  1. "Cannanore Days: Burnshire - Cannanore 1944-46" October 20, 2018 maddy’s ramblings. Includes the account of Danny, RAF pilot, flight 1340 (on special Duty) about his activities and the Burnshire cantonment at Cannanore.