Since sugarcane was introduced by Adriaan Van Der Stel in the early period of the Dutch colonization, precisely in 1639, nobody would imagine this plant would create such an immense impact until it turned out into a revolutionized industry for the next 300 years.
It is believed the first sugar mill was founded by the Wilhems brothers in the end of 1690s. At that time, there was no exportation of sugar because sugarcane was mainly used to produce "Larak", a type of local rum, for the residents. However, there was a first trial of producing sugar in Mauritius in 1694 during the Governor Roelof Deodati's mandate, with the help of Jan Bockelberg. It was produced in a small sugar mill in Flacq, situated on the edge of Rivière Céré. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a flood. When the French came, particularly in Mahé de Labourdonais's era, he built the first sugar mill to export sugar and to develop the economy. The first sugar mill was at Grande Rosalie, also known as Villebague. It is basically the oldest commercial sugar mill in Mauritius, started in 1744 but operated some years later. The site is also classified as National Heritage. Mahé de Labourdonais was a visionary governor. He believed in the development of Mauritius and his determinations to do so were great. In the same period, he was also involved in another sugar mill project at Ferney, which the chimney still exists today.
Gradually, Mauritius knew a massive increase in sugar mills. There were more than 250 around the island. However, with time, due to economic and war issues in mainly European countries, the price of sugar has been constantly decreasing since the end of 1880s. To face that problem, where the sugar industry was knowing a fall, the process of centralization started occurring. In addition, cyclones and some types of insects affected largely sugarcane crops at many sugar estates, resulting in a drastic financial loss, leading to several shutdowns. We can say the sugar industry was nearly dead. Estates and lands were bought, regrouping many sugar mills to be under one central mill. The process of centralization decreased the number of sugar mills with time.
Why Only Chimneys?
A chimney is a remarkable structure in a sugar factory. It is the first thing you will notice even far away, as it is always the main attractive and noticeable component. The annexations of sugar estates have caused a lot of sugar factories to close down. Unfortunately, many of them have been destroyed too! Lands were sold for other economic developments such as building of houses or have been replaced by crops. Some of the remaining sugar mills' buildings have been converted to garage, art gallery, etc. While many of those remaining old sugar factories do not have chimneys anymore, fortunately, several others have left their chimneys as a footprint of their existence and which this article is fully based on.
It is very important to note that all the images in the gallery below were shot in different weather conditions, using just a smartphone. Moreover, few of these chimneys are located in private areas where permission has been asked with the respective owners. Nevertheless, certain owners could not have been reached or have refused access, hence, the photos were shot far away outside their property. The gallery for chimneys has been classified according to the districts of Mauritius. Port-Louis, is the only district where there is no remaining sugar mill's chimney, so, it is excluded. The total sugar mills' chimneys in Mauritius is 111, including these which are still active!
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There are currently 19 sugar mills' chimneys in the district of Pamplemousses. They are as follows:
The sugar mill was founded in 1797 and shutdown in 1998, annexed by Belle Vue Harel, also known as Terra today!
Belle Vue Mauricia Old
Few information is available on this small sugar factory. It is believed, it was built around 1834 before Belle Vue Harel.
Belle Vue Pilot
Built in 1842, it was also known as Bois Rouge. In 1925, it was annexed by Belle Vue Harel, which is Terra, nowadays.
Belle Vue Rivet
The foundation year is unknown, but around 1858, it was annexed by Bon Espoir, located in Pointe Aux Piments region.
The sugar mill was constructed around 1851 and in 1925, it was taken by Solitude, located in the beginning of Triolet.
In 1851, it was owned by Mrs Valentin de Keating and in 1877, it was taken by L'Amitié, close to it, in Notre Dame region.
No exact date when it was founded, but in 1832, Armand Esnouf owned it and closed in 1873, after being annexed by Beau Séjour.
Located in the small village of Plaines Des Papayes, Fairfund was built between 1827 or 1828 and was demolished in 1876.
The first commercial sugar mill built in the 1740s by Mahé de Labourdonnais and others and was annexed by The Mount in 1921.
A chimney located in the sugarcane field of Piton. In 1807, it was already existed then in 1874, it was annexed by Beau Séjour.
Also known as Labourdonnais and Pieter Both, L'industrie was built in around 1840 and was annexed by Solitude in 1922.
There were 2 chimneys before, one of them has been destroyed by the cyclone, Carol. L'espoir was in operation until 1868.
The sugar mill was in existence in 1850. In 1905, it was taken by Nemours Harel and it was closed down around 1910.
Built in around 1820 and ceased in operation in 1875. Special thanks to Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate for the photoshoot.
The first Solitude sugar mill was some kilometers away from the actual one. The actual Solitude was closed in 1986.
Belle Vue Harel (Terra)
The current company name is Terra and is still in operation. Belle Vue Harel was founded in 1838 by the Harel Brothers.
The origin of the sugar mill was Petit Bois in 1795, then later changed to The Mount in 1834. It was shutdown down in 1994.
It was built in between 1830 and 1837 by Alexandre Paillotte. The Sottise sugar mill continued to operate until 1879.
It was also known as Maison Blanche. This sugar mill existed in 1828 and was annexed by Mon Rocher in 1890.
Rivière Du Rempart District
In the district of Rivière du Rempart, there are presently 22 sugar mills' chimneys.
The sugar mill existed in 1832. It is where the first Indian indentured laborers came to work. It was annexed by The Mount in 1938.
It is among the oldest sugar factory locally. Founded in 1792, it operated until it was annexed by Mon Loisir in 1947.
Belle Vue Robillard
In the forest of Daruty, hides a sugar mill in the bushes, known as Belle Vue Robillard, built in 1839 and was active until 1867.
No exact date has been found in which year it was founded. In 1909, it became inactive and bought by Nemours Harel in 1914.
Joseph Staub founded Forbach sugar mill in 1818 and it became a main pillar in the North. In 1872, it was annexed by Labourdonnais.
It is found in Pereybère in today's time. Grand-Baie was closed around 1871 and has been converted to an art gallery nowadays.
The chimney is hidden among the bushes as shown in the picture above, Réunion Maurel sugar mill ceased to operate in 1875.
It is situated in the village of Ile D'ambre, near Poudre D'Or and was also known as Les Mares. In 1921, it was demolished.
The sugar mill was owned by Jean Rose Daruty and it is found near Daruty forest. In 1865, the sugar factory ceased to operate.
It had the highest chimney in the North and was existed around 1830. L'union Delcourt was demolished in 1901.
The sugar factory was constructed between 1821 and 1827. Edouard Desjardins acquired it in 1868 and it was active until 1889.
The sugar mill was constructed around 1821 and the property was annexed by Belle Vue Harel (Terra) in 1960 after it was demolished.
There is no proper information in which year it was founded but we know when the land was acquired in 1837, there was no sugar mill.
It was located near La Salette church and it is believed the sugar mill was built in 1823. It continued to operate until 1901.
Mon Loisir Rouillard
Close to Daruty forest, precisely where Endemika is, situates the sugar mill of Mon Loisir Rouillard which was closed in 1872.
The sugar factory is said to be existed since 1820 and was closed in 2012. As from that, all sugarcane of Mon Loisir go to Terra.
This sugar factory was first mentioned in 1838. It was bought by Beau Séjour SE Co Ltd in 1883 and closed down in 1900.
It was built in around 1820. Petit Village factory continued to be active until 1849 after being centralized by Saint Antoine.
Owned by Hubert Martin and built in around 1817. The sugar mill was among the oldest in the region and was closed around 1875.
No exact date on when it was constructed but it was surely after 1820. In 1994, it ceased to operate and was annexed by Mon Loisir.
Probably built in the end of 1830s. The Vale sugar factory played an important role in that era and it was closed in 1880.
Also known as Souvenir, the Goodlands sugar factory was constructed in 1840 and was later demolished around 1886.
Flacq district has 22 chimneys. The chimney of F.U.E.L or the actual Alteo, has been renovated to a modern one. So, the old chimney does not exist anymore. Unfortunately, for Beau Rivage, a permission access to take a picture of the chimney has not been granted. The representation of Beau Rivage's chimney in the following gallery has been extracted from Google Earth view. Do click on the link stated for a better view in large resolution and the ability to zoom in.
The origin goes back to 1816, L'Union a sugar mill which later became L'Union Flacq, then F.U.E.L and now known as Alteo.
Argy was a popular sugar factory. There is a possibility it was built in around 1827. In 1942, it was taken by Constance.
Built in 1820, later demolished and displaced to Sans Souci, which became the Sans Souci sugar mill. View in big resolution here.
It is among the oldest sugar factory in Mauritius, the origin is from 1780s. It was a big factory and closed down in 2014.
A very beautiful place and popular for photoshoot. The Belle Mare sugar mill was created in 1822 and later closed in 1875.
Near the beautiful village of Clemencia, situated the Belle Rose sugar mill which was built in 1851 and closed in 1890.
Near Cascade Cresson region, situates the Beau Bois chimney, built in 1831 and remained active until it was closed in 1906.
No exact date on its origin. According to some scholars, it was founded in the beginning of 19th century and closed in 1899.
Among the owners was Louis de Ravenel, then William Hewetson. The sugar factory was built in around 1844, closed in 1925.
It is the tallest sugar mill's chimney in Mauritius. The first name was Espoir, built in 1820 and later ceased to operate in 1906.
A sugar mill with 2 gorgeous chimneys. Probably built by Pierre Renaud in 1831. It was centralized by Constance in 1873.
Also known as Mon Rocher ou Les Frères, little information is available on its origin. In 1900, it was annexed by Beau Champ.
Just before Bel Air, there is a small village called Caroline which had a sugar mill, built in 1831 and operated until 1890.
On the road to Bonne Mère region, situates the tall chimney of Constance Manès, also known as Belle Vue, built in around 1831.
The region is known as Belle Marre, the sugar mill located near the mountain of Fayence and shutdown in around 1860.
There was already a sugar mill in 1820 and it was closed in 1904. Petite Retraite chimney is classified as National Heritage.
In Poste de Flacq, there was a sugar mill called Providence, constructed in 1817 by J. Lemarie and demolished in 1885.
The origin of Sans Souci goes back to Beau Rivage. Beau Rivage was displaced to Sans Souci. Sans Souci was closed in 1946.
Pierre Mazery constructed the sugar mill in 1856 and named it Solitude, later became Sebastopol. In 1891, Deep River annexed it.
It was first mentioned in 1817 by August Blaize. Deep River continued to operate until it was annexed by Beau Champ in 1949.
Owned by Bertrand Bonhomme in the 1820s, then Ernest Leclézio became the owner. It was then annexed by F.U.E.L in 1948.
Located in Trou D'Eau Douce, built in 1835 by the Montocchio Brothers and demolished in 1879. Today, it holds a restaurant, Café Des Arts.
There are 19 chimneys in Grand-Port district. Omnicane, which is on La Baraque site has a modern chimney. The old La Baraque or Savannah chimney has been demolished.
The sugar mill was first constructed in 1818 by the Rochecouste family, who owned also Riche-en-Eau. It operated until 1958.
Originally known as Trou D'Eau and existed in 1849. In 1868, the name Bonne Source was taken and in 1883 it was demolished.
Near Cascade Edouard situates a place called Deux Bras, which has a sugar factory before with 2 chimneys. It was active until 1944.
It was the second sugar factory project carried by Mahé de Labourdonnais after Grande Rosalie. It ceased operation in 1968.
In 1832, the property of Gros Bois had a sugar factory. It continued to operate until 1935, then later was annexed by La Baraque.
On the main road to L'Escalier, situates the chimney of Joli Bois, which was constructed in 1855 and demolished in 1893.
The sugar mill was already existed in the beginning of 1850s. The owner was Adelson Pierrot. In 1902, it was taken by La Baraque.
The chimney of Saint Hubert is classified as a National Heritage. It was built in 1869 and ceased to operate in 1921.
Le Souffleur or Joson was probably built in the beginning of 1830s. It was annexed by Savinia between 1861 and 1864.
Les Mares du Tabac was built between 1828 and 1831. It had also a distillery. Later, it was annexed by Mon Désert in 1868.
It could be the sugar factory was constructed in the beginning of 1850s by the Cloupet family, until it ceased its operation in 2007.
Originated in 1841, it was owned by Chauvin family and later by Albert Daruty de Grandpré. The site now hosts a stone crusher factory.
The Union Vale was also called Mare du Tabac before. It was founded in the late of 1830s. In 1910, it was taken by Mon Désert.
Two beautiful chimneys located near Pont Naturel, founded around 1844 and was also called Eastwick Park. It was closed in 1886.
Constructed in 1840, it was also called Mont Fernand. It continued to operate until it was annexed by Union Vale in 1862.
Omnicane is a fully integrated flexi-factory at La Baraque, which was also called as Savannah, Solitude and Savinia.
Riche En Eau
The current sugar mill site was built in 1890. after it was displaced from the first location near the house. It was closed in 2007.
Rivière La Chaux
Known as Villeneuve, it was situated near the Mahebourg museum, on the edge of River La Chaux. It was closed in 1867.
It was named as Lapeyrouse when it was built in 1856. Later in 1860, the name changed to Union Park. It operated until 1905.
There are 13 chimneys in the district of Savanne.
Bel Air Wilson
Located near Bénares but precisely close to Senneville coast, the Bel Air Wilson was founded in 1804 and closed in 1927.
Near the village of Riambel, situated the sugar mill of Bel Air, owned by Loustau since 1840 and sold in 1876.
The actual Bénares was relocated in 1863 from the first site which was near the Château de Bénares. It was closed in 1968.
Near Rochester Falls track, there was a sugar mill named Fontenelle, constructed around 1850 and demolished in 1904.
The sugar mill was also called Saint Joseph. Fréderica was constructed aound 1855 and operated until 1874.
L'union Saint Aubin
The Fontenay family founded L'Union Saint-Aubin in 1848. It was an important sugar factory since years. It was closed in 2010.
L'union Saint Félix
The first name was Union and originated before 1831. The named changed in 1914 to Saint-Félix. It ceased its operation in 2007.
On the main road to Bénares or to L'Escalier, situated Savannah, a sugar factory which was annexed by La Baraque in 1949.
It was Henri Pitot who constructed Saint Aubin around the year 1818. And in 1944, it was annexed by L'Union Saint-Aubin.
The origin of the sugar mill of Saint Avold, can be traced back in 1856. In 1905, the property was sold to Anglo Ceylon.
Constructed by Michel Geffroy between 1815 and 1822, Terracine operated for many years until annexed by L'Union Saint-Aubin in 1947.
There is a possibility it was built by Janvier Monneron in 1817. In 1886, it was annexed by L'Union Saint-Félix.
The origin of Britannia goes back in the end of 1790s, which was known as Constance. In 2002, Britannia was closed!.
Black River District
A total of 7 sugar mills' chimneys exist in Black River district. The old Médine chimney does not exist anymore. It has been replaced by a modern one.
The sugar mill of Albion was already existed in the beginning of 1850s. It operated until 1906 and acquired by Médine in 1937.
Henri Viader built the sugar mill in 1851. It was demolished in 1890. Today, the land has been divided into residential properties.
According to some texts, it was constructed in 1860 by Amédée Perrot. It was closed in 1897 due to transportation and financial issues.
Constructed in the 18th century by Pierre St Aubin. It was bought by Albion in 1882 and was demolished in the same year.
Also known as Saint Sauveur, the L'Amitié sugar mill was owned by Louis Saintou in 1857 and was closed in 1868.
Originated since 1851, the Médine was the biggest sugar mill in the West and in 2019, it was closed due to financial loss.
The chimney has been restored. So, in the picture above, it is not the original. It was built in 1847 and closed in 1870.
In Moka district, there are 6 chimneys. La Laura chimney has been majorly destroyed.
Commonly known as Champ D'Or, it was built in 1854. In 1947, it was annexed by Mon Désert, which became Mon Désert Alma.
The origin of the sugar factory was in the year of 1855 and it was owned by Desvaux. It was annexed by Highlands in 1936.
The first time it was officially stated was in 1859 in the Mauritius Almanach. The chimney in the picture has been demolished in 1924.
In 1871, the sugar mill was founded by James Curie together with Robert Stein, Henry Adam and John Fraser. It was closed in 1901.
No exact date when it was built but around 1786, there was already a sugar factory on the land. Minissy was closed in 1917.
Mon Désert Alma
Built by Martial Noel in 1827. It was known as just Mon Désert and the Alma was added after it annexed Alma. It was closed in 2007.
Plaines Wilhems District
And finally, only 3 chimneys exist in Plaines-Wilhems district.
Based on some documents, it was built in 1847. A fire broke out in 1940 and the sugar mill was badly affected, leading to its closure.
We can trace this sugar mill back in 1839. It was annexed by Clairfonds in 1876. Since that, a convent was founded on the property.
In 1803, it was built by Martin Moncamp. In 1957, it was closed. Today, the Margarine Industries is located on the same site.
List Of Sugar Estates With No Chimneys Anymore
Here is a list of sugar estates which still exist but do not have their respective chimney anymore. These buildings have been converted into garage, offices or others or simply abandoned. They are namely:
Haute Rive, Bras D'Eau, Schoenfield, Stanley, Belle Rive Windmill, Roche Terre Windmill, Belle Vue Hannong Windmill, Belle Vue Maurel, California, Constance (La Gaité), Belle Roche (Quatres-Cocos), Bel Etang, Bel Ombre, Belle Rive, Réunion, Rose Belle and Chébel.
History Should Not Be Forgotten
This project is not only personal! It is also for future generations to know more about the different sugar factories we had. At the time this post was published, we have only 3 sugar companies in our island: Terra, Omnicane and Alteo. Just imagine from more than 250 to 3 now. It is no doubt true this industry will disappear in the coming years. Hence, on the historical side, it was important to gather this collection so that the population can aware and history should not be forgotten. Historians, students and the general public are free and most welcome to consult the gallery for educational purpose.
Message From The Author...
My name is Ali J and I was born in the village of Labourdonnais Sugar Estates in 1989. My father used to work for Belle Vue Harel. He worked for more than 30 years until 2005. In fact, few of my other family members worked there as well. The sugar industry has always been a passion to me. During harvest, I could hear the machines, the trucks, I could see the laborers in the fields and watching them was a pleasure. I left Labourdonnais in 1999 to live somewhere else but still today, I am attached to this village and I go there quite often. Everything has changed now. There was a time when I felt I need to contribute to this industry in any aspect, thus I decided to collect all the remaining sugar mills' chimneys as a collection and share them to the world.
I sincerely hope you have appreciated this gallery. These sugar mills do not exist anymore but they left a special memory through these chimneys. Imagine for a moment how difficult the working conditions were for the slaves and indentured laborers, as well as our friends or family members years ago. History needs to be felt, not just heard or read!
In case you need a picture in large resolution for your educational project, book or as reference or if you have found a mistake in this article, please contact me.
Share this post to everyone...
It was not that easy to research on past sugar mills. Thankfully, these books and tools helped me tremendously:
André Rouillard (Album - Usines Sucrières de L'Île Maurice).
Guy Rouillard (Histoire des domaines Sucriers de l'Ile Maurice).
Jean Marie Chelin (TABLISMAN - Histoire de l'industrie sucrière de l'Ile Maurice).
Allister MacMillan (MAURITIUS: Illlustrated - Historical and descriptive commercial and industrial facts, figures and resources).
Alexander Descubes (The Island Of Mauritius Map 1880).
Google Earth and Google Map.
And also I thank those who helped me directly and indirectly:
Terra, Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate, Le Domaine de Saint Aubin, Honee G, Treshma Coorjee V, Ashwin K C, Ritesh B, Shenaz N and the general public who contributed to help...
AUTHOR: Ali J (Administrator)
PUBLISHED DATE: March 8, 2021
LAST EDITED: March 12, 2021
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