Montpelier Sugar Factory
Montpelier Sugar Factory, (c.1890 - 1954)
This is a fine example of a muscavado sugar factory of the late 19th Century, reputed to have been the finest in the Caribbean in the 1890’s.
The large horizontal steam engine remains with its enormous flywheel still sporting its governor and ornamental colours of yellow and green. The engine is dated 1890 and was manufactured in Glasgow by McOnie, Harvie & Co.
There are two other steam engines, a high-speed one used for cutting cane prior to grinding and a small one for pumping water into the boilers, which still possess their massive pressure gauges. About 1945, the Antigua Distillery Ltd took over Montpelier, Lynch’s, Colebrook’s, Brown’s, Walrond’s, Harman’s and Hope’s Estates. The reason for buying the factory was to produce molasses for their rum distillery at Rat Island.
In 1952, the large overhead crane was brought in from Barbados. Mr. Francis Nunes was the last Manager. He held the position from Nov 1946 until Jan 1955. The factory closed down due to labour troubles after the last crop in 1954. The last planter to live in the estate house was “Tank” Maginley, who in retirement, became host at the Kensington Hotel in St John’s.
In a field nearby is a private cemetery of the Harman family. Buried there are Samuel Harman who died in 1759 and another Samuel Harman dying in 1767. Their wives accompany them both. (For details, see the Museum’s “Persons” database).
Overlooking the factory is the old windmill tower, which has now been converted into a large water tank. It smiles down on what was once a glorious part of the time when sugar was King. What a fine tourist attraction this ruin of an old sugar factory would make!