The International Steam Pages


The Distilleries of Guadeloupe 2013 (and 2014)

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


Watermills started making an appearance in Guadeloupe at the end of the 17th century, mainly in mountainous Basse-Terre with its numerous streams. Windmills started appearing during the British occupation between 1759 and 1763 and were characteristic of flatter Grande-Terre and Marie-Galante. By 1824 there were 239 windmills in Guadeloupe. From 1819, steam-powered mills starting appearing and by 1862 there were a total of 72. Today, two sugar factories, one industrial distillery and nine rum distilleries are in operation. Five of the distilleries have steam-powered cane mills (1 in Grande-Terre, 3 in Basse-Terre and 1 in Marie-Galante).

Updates:

Grande-Terre:

Beauport Le Pays de la Cane (ex Usine de Beauport), 97117 Port-Louis:

The old mill at this former sugar factory, now a cultural and scientific centre (http://www.beauportlepaysdelacanne.com/,(link dead by 12th April 2018) open 09.00-17.00 except Mondays and public holidays, admission EUR 6,50/10,50 including train ride), is fenced off and not accessible to visitors. In the 1970s a turbo generator powering a set of five mills replaced the old steam engine.

Distillerie Damoiseau, Bellevue (D101), 97160 Le Moule:

http://damoiseau.fr/en/

The distillery opened at the end of the 19th century and was acquired by the Damoiseau family in 1942. It produces Damoiseau rum. The mill is powered by a steam engine. The dismantled 1871 Fives-Lille engine and the vertical engine are at the back of the yard. The rest of the gear is on display in the park in front of the visitor centre. There are several more duplex pumps apart from the Burton and Gardner Denver shown. The distillery is open to visitors Mo-Fr 07.00-14.30, Sa 07.00-15.00.

Usine de Gardel, Gardel, 97160 Le Moule :

http://www.gardel.fr/

Opened in 1870, this is Grande-Terre’s last sugar factory, processing 600,000 tons of cane a year and producing 60,000 tons of sugar, 25,000 tons of molasses, 180,000 tons of bagasse and 6,000 hectolitres of ethanol. The five mills are powered by modern steam turbines. The factory runs public tours during the cutting season (February-June, tours Mo-Sa at 09.00, 11.00 and 16,00, EUR 8). A small steam engine is on display inside the main gate. Gardel’s 1928 Fives-Lille drop valve steam engine is on display at the Club Med La Caravelle resort in Sainte-Anne, it was donated in 01/1974. Close by to Le Moule in Dubédou a 1934 Fives-Lille steam turbine is on display next to the road . Thomas revisited in 2014 and found a Brissoneau (vacuum?) pump on display in front of “La Maison Du Sucre De Guadeloupe”, the factory’s visitors centre, at the back of the factory next to the company store and restaurant (added 21st August 2014).

La Maison Coloniale de Zévallos, Zévallos (N5 between Le Moule et St-François), 97160 Le Moule :

Zévallos was in use as a sugar factory between 1844 and 1907. The director’s residence has been listed as an Historical Monument since 1990 and open to the public by appointment We-Sa 15.00-18.00, admission EUR 5 (tel. 0590-820158 / 0690-157057, e-mail lmzevallos.debikakas at gmail.com), while the Saturday buffet lunch at the attached restaurant also includes a visit. The property includes a memorial to the Indian immigration in Guadeloupe, brought there from 1854 as indentured workers after the abolition of slavery (there are an estimated 50,000 persons of Indian heritage in Guadeloupe today, the majority on Grande-Terre).

Basse-Terre:

Usine du Comté & Habitation du Comté, Comté de Loéhac, 97115 Sainte-Rose:

After this sugar factory closed, both the factory and the estate residence (built in 1948) were turned into separate hotels. The first one, Hotel La Sucrerie du Comté, is closed and abandoned, but the more luxurious second one, Hotel Habitation du Comté (http://www.hotelducomte.1s.fr/), is open and has a stationary steam engine (tandem compound) as well as a Burton steam pump on display at the entrance.

Distillerie Bonne-Mêre, 97115 Sainte-Rose:

Bonne-Mêre operated as a sugar factory from 1863 until 1973. Today, it is a modern distillery producing ethanol.

Musée du Rhum & Distillerie Reimonenq, Bellevue (off the N2), 97115 Sainte-Rose :

http://musee-du-rhum.fr/ (link dead by 12th April 2018)

The mill at this distillery, which opened in 1916 and produces Coeur de Chauffe rum, is powered by an electric motor. It is not open to the public. Next to the distillery, the rum museum is open Mo-Sa 09.00-17.00 and admission costs EUR 6. On display in the park are a Manlove Alliott Fryer & Co. stationary steam engine and one Worthington and four Burton (the first two are 11205 and 17215) duplex steam pumps. (The only other surviving MAF steam engines I know of are three pairs of vacuum pumps in Java's sugar mills. Their factory was in Nottingham but they had representative offices in a number of places including Rouen in France. RD)

Distillerie du Domaine de Séverin (ex Habitation Bellevue), 97115 Sainte-Rose :

http://www.severinrhum.com/ Link broken by 1st November 2018

This distillery produces Séverin rum since 1928 on the site of a former pineapple caning plant and sugar estate. Until 2010 at least the twin mills were powered by a waterwheel fed by a 3 km-long canal, the only water-powered mill in operation in the French Caribbean, as shown on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5x7jfqyB6I. Now as the pictures show it seems the mill has been rebuilt and 'modernised' even if there is no mention of it on the website! It is open to the public Mo-Sa 08.30-17.30 and admission is free. Tours of the estate by road train are offered hourly and cost EUR 11.

Distillerie Montebello (1975 ex Distillerie Carrère), Carrère, 97170 Petit-Bourg :

http://www.rhummontebello.com/index.html

Founded in 1930, this distillery produces Montebello rum. It is open to the public Mo-Sa 07.00-17.00, Sa 08.00-12.00. The Corliss steam engine powering the mills was obtained from Usine Pirogue in Marie-Galante, which closed in 1946.

Distillerie Longueteau, Domaine Espérance Belair, Sainte-Marie, 97130 Capesterre-Belle-Eau :

http://www.rhumlongueteau.fr/index.php

Opened in 1895, this distillery produces Longueteau and Karukera rums. It is open to the public Mo-Fr 09.00-18.00, Sa 09.00-13.00, as well as Sundays from December to April. A (1895 built?) St-Quentin steam engine powers the mills. 

Since this report was written, by 2014 it had been taken out of service and replaced by an 'electric turbine', alas the distillery's website still states that the steam engine is in use.

Distillerie Bologne, Rivière des Pères, 97100 Basse-Terre :

http://www.rhumbologne.fr/en/

From 1875 to 1886 this was the site of a sugar factory. The present distillery was opened in 1930 and produces Bologne rum. It is open to the public Mo-Fr 08.00-13.00 year-round and on Saturdays from February to June. The Fulton Iron Works Co. steam engine (http://www.fultoniron.net/) used to power the mills was imported from Brazil in 1995. The plate was probably reads "Fulton Iron Works Co, Engineers, Founders, Machinists, St. Louis, Mo, USA". The casting on the (mills) base is in Portuguese, "Oficinas Dedini Piracicaba", the company is still at work, http://www.codistil.com.br/index.php.(link dead by 25th October 2016) The duplex pump is Burton 8823.

Marie-Galante:

Marie Galante is also known as the “Island of the 100 Mills”, as there were once 106 windmills, most of which still stand as ruins today.

Habitation Murat, 97112 Grand-Bourg (off D203 towards Capesterre):

http://www.cg971.fr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1253&Itemid=1252

Founded in the mid-17th century, this sugar estate’s windmill tower is listed as an Historical Monument. The buildings still standing today date from 1814. The restored residence has housed the Ecomusée de Marie-Galante since 1979 (open Mo-Fr 09.00-17.30, Sa/Su 09.00-13.00).

Habitation Roussel-Trianon, 97112 Grand-Bourg (N9 towards Saint-Louis):

http://www.cg971.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=405&Itemid=100147

Founded in the mid-17th century, a windmill was built in 1800. In 1843 the windmill was partly destroyed by an earthquake and replaced by a steam engine. In 1874 the estate was bought by the Retz family, the factory closed and the equipment transferred to Usine de Grande-Anse. In 1979 the ruins were donated to the Ecomusée and and the site has been listed as an Historical Monument since 1981.

Usine Sucrière de Grand-Anse (USGA), 97112 Grand-Bourg (N9 towards Saint-Louis):

This sugar factory and distillery, opened in 1845, produces 10,000 tons of sugar per year. The mills are powered by steam turbines. Public tours are run Mo-Fr mornings during the cutting season. The 1st steam turbine is on display inside the factory’s gates, while the 2nd one is at the home of Patrick Maurin, an USGA employee who runs a cane syrup shop (“Les Délices de Siblet”) besides the N9 towards Saint-Louis.

Distillerie Poisson, 97112 Grand-Bourg (N9 towards Saint-Louis):

domaine-poisson@orange.fr

This small distillery produces 300,000 litres of Père Labat rum annually. It is open to the public Mo-Sa 07.00-12.00. The mill is powered by an electric engine, the (piston valve) Brissoneau & Lotz it replaced is on display inside the visitor centre/shop, together with an older steam engine with its mill and two duplex steam pumps (one American, the other Burton) and a belt driven pump..

Distillerie Bielle, 97112 Grand Bourg (off N9 towards Capesterre):

http://www.rhumbielle.com/

Built on the site of an old sugar estate, the distillery produces 330,000 liters of Bielle rum annually. It is open to the public Mo-Sa 09.30-13.00, Su (Nov.-May & July/August) 10.00-12.00. In the 1980s, the factory was modernized and the steam engine powering the mill replaced by a diesel engine taken off a truck. Nine steam engines and pumps are on display outside behind the distillery in varying condition and completeness. The two small pumps will have been used inside the distillery, the first reads 'Daubron Pairs' and the second "The Blymyer Irons Works, Cincinnati, Ohio, Jupiter 3'.

Distillerie du Domaine de Bellevue, Bellevue, 97140 Capesterre-de-Marie-Galante (D202 towards l’Etang-Noir):

http://www.distillerie-bellevue.com/

Founded in 1769, this distillery has an annual production of 850,000 liters of Domaine de Bellevue rum. It is open to the public daily 09.30-13.00. Inside the modern distillery, opened in 01/2003, a Fives-Lille steam engine imported from Brazil powers three mills. Next to the new distillery, both the windmill and the old distillery still stand. Inside the old distillery, the electrically-powered mill as well as the remains of an 1873 steam engine are still in place. (The latter carries W & A McOnie Glasgow 1873 but this is only apparent on close inspection of the original hi-res images RD)


Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson

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