Searching for Sugar Mills – Eastern Caribbean

The Eastern Caribbean Sugar Mills

An Architectural Guide to The Eastern Caribbean Sugar Mills reflecting African, Amerindian, European, and East Indian influences. Co-Authored by a long time Nevisian resident and business woman, Suzanne Gordon.

An exceptionally useful and beautiful work of art!

This is an absolutely fascinating book on the Caribbean – the content, the writing and the photography are all superb.

In addition to its stated purpose of being an architectural guide, it surpasses most travel books in the useful information it imparts to anyone visiting this delightful area or wishing to learn more about its rich culture and heritage. Aside from the stunningly beautiful color photography, the maps and drawings are very helpful and tastefully displayed. This certainly is my new, indispensable reference source on the Eastern Caribbean. I’m amazed at how much relevant and useful information the authors managed to present in one book. It’s both beautiful and impressive and a delight to read. I’m definitely ordering many more copies as gifts for friends.

– Arpad Kovacsy

Sugar mills first appeared in the medieval Islamic world. They were first driven by watermills, and then windmills from the 9th and 10th centuries in what are today Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

Sugar plantations in the Caribbean were a major part of the economy of the islands in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Most Caribbean islands were covered with sugar cane fields and mills for refining the crop. The main source of labor, until the abolition of chattel slavery, was enslaved Africans. After the abolition of slavery, indentured laborers from India, China, Portugal and other places were brought to the Caribbean to work in the sugar industry. These plantations produced 80 to 90 percent of the sugar consumed in Western Europe, later supplanted by European-grown sugar beet.

In the Caribbean the first sugar harvest happened in Hispaniola in 1501; and many sugar mills had been constructed in Cuba and Jamaica by the 1520s. The approximately 3,000 small sugar mills that were built before 1550 in the New World created an unprecedented demand for cast iron gears, levers, axles and other implements.

Sugar mills are the vestiges of a sad period in Caribbean history. Elegant Spanish-style buildings, with stately concrete columns and arches, which served as sugar mills where hundreds of African slaves toiled to harvest “white gold,” or sugar.

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