Sugar Estates of St. Kitts - A Photo Essay by Dr. Grant Cornwell

A Modern Sugar Factory on St. Kitts

In 1912, the estate owners of St. Kitts abandoned the centuries-old Muscovado sugar production process in individual factories located on each estate, and cooperated to build the central processing factory that is still in use today. The photos below illustrate the main steps of the process.

  •  Cane arrives by train from around the island.
  • Cane is dumped onto a conveyer belt.
  • Cane is chopped by massive rotating blades. Trash is removed.
  • Cane is crushed several times to extract cane sugar juice.
  • Raw cane juice is heated to purify.
  • Cane juice is filtered.
  • Cane juice is boiled, creating cane syrup.
  • Cane syrup is further boiled under steam pressure to create sugar crystals.
  • Boiler tests when crystals are properly formed, and releases batch into holding vat.
  • Sugar, still laden with molasses, is churned in vats.
  • Then drained into massive centrifuges to separate sugar from molasses.
  • Bank of centrifuges.
  • Separated molasses is recycled until spent, then sold in bulk.
  • Finished sugar on conveyor.
  • Several hundred tons of sugar is bagged for local use and regional export.
  • Bagged sugar.  Most, however, is transported to the docks in bulk, and loaded on ships for further processing in England or U.S.
  • Bulk molasses tanks, for export to Trinidad for rum making.
  • The crushed cane, after juice extraction, is called bagasse.  This is conveyed to huge furnaces which create the steam to run the mill.