All of the timber used in the construction of WIND MILLS in Barbados was originally
from a local tree – the BULLY TREE or MASTIC TREES, however when these supplies became exhausted, GREENHEART from Guyana was used. These timbers are heavy,
strong and long lasting. Canes were cut in the field by hand and cleaned of leaves and trash, then loaded onto ox-drawn carts and taken to the mill yards and piled into heaps. Gangs of men and women then carried the canes to the feeder trough and fed between the rollers. The Foreman in charge of a MILL GANG was known as the BOSUN. There were about ten workers running the operations of the Mill – The BOTSWAIN [Bosun] who was in charge of the other workers also fed the canes into the mill. He also decided when to pull the Mill out of the wind- in case there was an approaching squall, etc. The five members of the MILL GANG carried the canes from the MILL YARD to the trough from which the rollers were fed. The three BAGASSE CARRIERS – they took the crushed cane [BAGASSE] to suitable parts of the yard for drying.
The BOY- he returned any uncrushed or poorly crushed cane to the trough so that it
could pass through the rollers again. He also kept the strainers under the rollers free
from any foreign matter, so as to avoid clogging. Most wind mills were given feminine names – like sailing vessels of old. One example was the mill at Portland in St Peter, was named the BETSY BELLE!
Steam power eventually became the power of choice as they were much more efficient
at extracting juice, than the wind mills. A three roller wind mill could be expected to
recover about 60% of its total content of sugar, whereas a powerful steam driven mill
with six to nine rollers, could extract some 92%!
At Morgan Lewis, during a week with favourable winds and canes with a good quality of juice, one would have expected the Mill to crush some 200 hundred tons of canes and produce about 5, 500 gallons of syrup.
The juice from the crushed cane was caught in the SYRUP PAN and was taken to the BOILING HOUSE via LEAD PIPES – a section of which can be seen.
The MORGAN LEWIS MILL was built in the 1700’s and worked until 1944 – it was acquired by the Barbados National Trust on April 6th 1963. During the ensuing years, many modifications, etc were made to the mill.
Originally, it would have had a vertical roller system, and that was replaced by the present horizontal rollers – perhaps during the late 1800’s. If you look at the top of the mill from the outside – you will see a masonry addition that made the mill higher. You might wonder why the doorway on the southern side of the mill is as high as it is?
Sugar cane was first manufactured into sugar in Barbados in 1642, by Capt. Holdip at Locust Hall in St George. This mill was a vertical, three timber roller mill and powered by cattle.
Within 10 years, timber constructed wind mills were being tried in place of the cattle mills.
In 1841, the first steam plant was introduced and located at Newcastle in St John.
In 1846, at the peak of the wind- powered sugar mill in Barbados, there were some five hundred and six wind mills in operation.