The International Steam Pages


Industrial Heritage in Dominica, 2013

Thomas Kautzor has been to several Caribbean islands to check out what is left of their railways and industrial heritage.

For the full general index, see Railway Relics (and more) in the Caribbean, Other report for the eastern islands in this series comprise:

Mainly or exclusively railways

Railways and Sugar Mills

Sugar Mills and Distilleries


Dominica Forest Ltd. / Dominica Forests & Sawmills Ltd.

The mountainous island of Dominica was not well suited to make the sugar industry viable, as a result the only railway known to have operated on the island is a short-lived 36” gauge forestry railway which ran inland from the port of Portsmouth on the northern Leeward coast, 45 km north of Roseau. When Dominica Forests & Sawmills Ltd. took over the assets of Dominica Forest Ltd. south of the Indian River in December 1910, the railway was already in operation, using a Kerr Stuart Brazil class 0-4-2ST No. 1097/1910. The sawmill along with the railway were already abandoned in 1913 or 14. Today, the Indian River is a major tourist attraction, with tourist being taken on boats one mile upstream to a small bar in the forest. Along the way, the concrete abutments from a steel railway bridge are pointed out by the guide. The bridge itself was destroyed by Hurricane David n 1979, and parts of it are lying in the river.

Sources:

Robert R. Darsley, “Caribbean Cane Tramways – (1) The Lesser Antilles”, in Industrial Railway Record No. 93, June 1982;

David Rollinson, “Railways of the Caribbean”, Oxford: MacMillan Caribbean, 2001;

http://lennoxhonychurch.com/heritage.cfm?Id=189 (Domain active but link broken by October 2017)


Sugar Mills of Dominica

Because of the large number of streams, Dominican mills relied heavily on water power, there were over 60 watermills in operation at one time. Sugar cane cultivation quickly made way for limes, which in turn were replaced by bananas from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Old Mill Cultural Centre & Museum, Canefield (6 km north of Roseau):

The mill at Canefield Estate was built in 1774. In 1828 108 slaves worked here and it produced 150,000 lbs. of sugar, 2,560 gallons of rum and 4,400 gallons of molasses. In 1900 sugar production ended and in 1908 the estate was sold to Andrew Green, who reactivated it as a lime plantation. In 1964 the estate was sold to the L. Rose Lime Juice Co., who in turn sold it to the Government of Dominica in 1968. In 1979 it was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan and restored with U.S. AID funds in 1980. In 1985 it was established as the Old Mill Cultural Centre and in 2009 a museum was opened at the site (closed on Sundays).

The Tasker CB2 steam ‘spring mounted’ tractor No. 1453/1911, new to Rose & Co., West Indies is here and pictures are elsewhere on this site 

A G. Fletcher & Co., London & Derby, mill powered by a stationary steam engine.

Belfast Estate Ltd. distillery, Mahaut (10 km north of Roseau):

On display next to the road is a complete watermill (G. Fletcher & Co., London & Derby). The rum produced here is made from imported molasses.

Macoucherie Distillery (Shillingford Estate Ltd.), Mero (20 km north of Roseau):

This distillery was opened in the late 19th century and produces rum from sugar cane grown on the surrounding estate. The mill (George Fletcher & Co., Derby) is powered by a modern waterwheel. The distillery can be visited during the cutting season (http://www.shillingfordestatesltd.com/, tel. 767-449.6409/6624).

Hampstead Estate, near Calibishie (Windward coast):

This closed factory was built in the 1770s and used to produce sugar, lime juice and copra. The mill (Aitken McNeil & Co., Glasgow No. 595) was powered by a waterwheel. Inside the abandoned building now used to shelter livestock there are five 24” gauge shelf wagons and some rails.


Rainforest Adventures Dominica, Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Laudat (10 km inland from Roseau):

Rainforest Adventures used to operate a 1.5 km long aerial tram as well as zip lines. The tram had three stations (Base Station/1,900 ft., Mid Station and Top Station/2,400 ft.). It was closed a couple of years ago and everything has been abandoned.

Sources:

Suzanne Gordon & Anne Hersh, “Searching for Sugar Mills – An Architectural Guide to the Eastern Caribbean”, MacMillan, Oxford, 2005.


Earlier this year David Rollinson found this Fawcett, Preston beam engine 'on the road to the airport from Plymouth, out in the countryside at Melvile Hall':


Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson

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