The International Steam Pages
The St Nicholas Abbey Sugar Mill, Barbados
Barbados once had some 50 sugar mills, all had closed until, that is, the
one at St Nicholas Abbey was reconstructed - the original being scrapped in
1947. The project dates back to ca 1983 when the then owner was given a
grant by the Canadian Government to bring a Fletcher stationary steam engine
of 1890 from a syrup factory close to Bridgetown and install it for
operation. In the event the project was never finished but when Larry Warren
bought the plantation in 2006 he completed the work and the mill is now a
major tourist attraction in association with the rum which is produced on
site from the concentrated cane juice. Crushing occurs on several days a
week during the harvesting season (January / February to May / June), for
more information see their website - https://www.stnicholasabbey.com/.
The pictures are largely taken (with permission) from the official Facebook page unless otherwise indicated.
Clive Hepworth has visited the railway and has sent me an enthusiastic illustrated report (30th September 2021), I have now added his picture of the maker's plate on the mill engine (20th December 2021).
This a view of the mill and distillery, the old building is a former windmill.
Cut cane is brought in and fed manually to the cane tray.
There is a single triple roll mill, the resultant bagasse is dried and burned in their modern boiler.
These pictures show the drive to the mill.
The engine is from George Fletcher of Derby from 1890. It was formerly at Fairfield Syrup Factory, St. Michael. The picture is courtesy of Clive Hepworth (added 20th December 2021):
The next two pictures are courtesy of Glen Beadon and show the engine.
Having the engine running is a mixed blessing for the photographer, loads of atmosphere but absolutely no engineering detail.
The monochrome picture is said to be the engine in its former home, the other picture is of a ca.1920 15 kW vertical steam engine used for electricity generation. It worked at the Kendall Syrup Factory until 1970 and was donated by Stanley Carrington.
The mill boiler is from Saz Boilers of Pune in India and was installed in 2012, it is hand fired with bagasse and can run the engine at up to 75hp although in practice it is rather less than this. The excess bagasse is used in the rum distillery. Prior to fermentation the raw juicer is screened and filtered, no clarification is done.
There is now additional steam interest here. A 1.5km 2ft 6in narrow gauge railway has being laid down to take visitors to Cherry Tree Hill see https://barbados.org/blog/st-nicholas-abbey-heritage-railway/#.WrANkdSLTGg. It will not be the first railway on the island, the previous one was built to 3ft 6in gauge and later converted to 2ft 6in gauge. It was never a commercial success especially as it had one section built on a 1 in 33 gradient and closed in 1937. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados_Railway and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsEnfjMXiAs, which alas is not a video but it does include many old pictures of the railway.
Clive Hepworth has visited the railway and has sent me an enthusiastic illustrated report (30th September 2021).
Motive power will be a Jung 0-4-4-0T Mallet (2279/1914) formerly #5 at Ceper Baru sugar mill in Central Java, Indonesia. It was sold from there to Graham Lee of Statfold Barn in the English Midlands and has now been sold on here. At the time of writing, it is being overhauled at Statfold. The picture in the newspaper report is of a different Mallet...
Here are some of my pictures of the locomotive working in Java: My first visit to Ceper was on 22nd May 1979, there was was no time for more than portrait shots of the roster: From the lack of bagasse fuel, I guess it has just been lit up and pulled out of the shed especially for what was then a rare visitor.
On 18th August 1991, it carried a lighter green livery but was still in good overall condition. By the time the mill closed at the end of the 1996 season, all the locomotives here were 'exhausted'.
Here it works a train of empties away from the mill on 15th August 1988.
It was on a cane train on 23rd August 1986, the only time I caught it as such.
I would appreciate some pictures of the locomotive when it starts work in Barbados, anticipated towards the end of 2018.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson