The International Steam Pages

The Distilleries of Martinique 2013 - South

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

Martinique has one modern sugar factory which produces both sugar and industrial rum from molasses, as well as seven distilleries producing a total of 14 brands of rum which benefit from the “Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC)” label (Protected Designations of Origin). Most of the distilleries are open to the public, including inside the mills, mostly no admission is charged (except where noted below), and free samplings of rum are on offer inside the shops. A total of 3,600 hectares are planted with sugar cane. The cane cutting season runs from February to June and due to the hilly nature a high proportion of the cane is still cut by hand. The mills in five of the seven active distilleries are powered by stationary steam engines.

Click on a thumbnail to see an image full size.

Habitation Clément, Domaine de l’Acajou, D6, 97240 Le François: and (link broken, 1st November 2019)

The distillery, formerly known as Usine du François, was active from 1917 to 1988. Since then Clément rum is produced at Distillerie Simon, while aging and bottling still takes place here. It is owned by Groupe Bernard Hayot (GBH). On March 14, 1991 a meeting between François Mitterand and George Bush took place here following the 1st Gulf War. The property has been listed as an Historical Monument since 1996 and opened to the public as a museum in 2005 (open daily 09.00-18.00, admission Eur. 12). Five steam engines and some pumps are on display inside the former mill, while five older steam engines are on display outside.:

First two general views inside , followed by close ups of a slide valve engine):

A J. Crepelle & Co., Lille engine which can be turned by an electric motor:

A Corliss engine which can be turned by an electric motor;

These are the small pumps / engines inside the mill, the first is by Labordière 

These are the outdoor engines (Marshall 86090 is the first horizontal engine). (Thanks are due to the Museum of English Rural Life for telling me that this engine was supplied to 'Henri Corblin' in February 1931. If you look at this page you will see that this company merged with Burton whose duplex pump is shown below at Distillerie La Mauny and whose other such pumps survive at other distilleries on the island. RD) 

Distillerie Simon, N6, Le Simon, 97240 Le François:

This modern distillery produces Saint-Etienne, Clément and Monna rums. It is powered by an electric engine. Dumped outside the factory are the dismantled remains of the old mill, including an engine frame marked “Cie. Fives-Lille 1900”. The factory is open to the public only during the cutting season.

Maison de la Canne, route des Trois-Ilets (D7), Pointe Vatable, 97229 Les Trois Ilets: (Link broken by December 2023. RD)

Martinique’s sugar cane museum is housed in the former Distillerie Vatable and opened in 1987. A stationary steam engine donated by Distillerie Bernus is on display inside the museum (open Tu-Th 08.30-17.30, Fr/Sa 08.30-17.00, Su 09.00-17.00, admission EUR 3,00).

Distillerie Trois Rivières, D7, Quartier Trois-Rivières, 97228 Sainte-Luce: (Domain dead by October 2017)

This distillery was opened as a sugar factory in 1894 and produced rum until 2003, after which the distilling equipment was moved to Distillerie La Mauny. The property is owned by the Chevrillon group since 2012. After the mill closed it has become a museum with a rebuilt windmill. The Corliss stationary steam engine which used to power the mills as well as various steam pumps are still in place. It is open Mo-Fr 09.00-17.30, Sa 09.00-13.00 and a guided tour costs EUR 2,50.

Distillerie La Mauny, N8, 97211 Rivière Pilote: (Domain dead by October 2017)

The distillery has been in use as a sugar factory since 1749. Apart from La Mauny, it has also produced Trois Rivières and Duquesne rums since 2003. It has been owned by the Chevrillon group since 2012. The factory in use today was built in 1984 and houses a drop valve 825 h.p. Cail steam engine built in 1949. Some more steam machinery is on display in the grounds (first picture), also Cail twin cylinder engine No. 2098 (second and third picture) and a duplex pump with a Ateliers Burton of Nurgent sur Oise #12141 plate (fourth picture). The remains of an older mill, still with its steam engine, are located between the visitor’s center and the new factory (the pump is a 'common or garden' Worthington duplex). The distillery is open to the public Mo-Fr 09.00-17.30, Sa 09.00-13.00 and the EUR 3,50 admission includes a guided tour through the production site.

Ecomusée de Martinique, off N5, Anse Figuier, 97211 Rivière Pilote: (Link broken by December 2023. RD)

This museum opened in 1993 in the former Distillerie Ducanet, which operated from 1924 to 1953. The distillery’s old stationary steam engine is on display. The museum is open Tu-Th 08.30-17.30, Fr 08.30-17.00, Sa 08.30-13.00/14.00-17.00, Su 09.00-13.00/14.00-17.00, admission EUR 3.

Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson