The Industrial Heritage of Barbados: The Story of Sugar

Date of Submission: 18/01/2005
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Barbados World Heritage Task Force /Coordinating Committee Bay Street, St. Michael, Barbados
Coordinates: Barbados: 13º10' N - 59º32' W St. Nicholas Abbey: 13º16' N - 59º35' W Morgan Lewis: 13º15' N - 59º34' W Codrington College: 13º10‘15” N - 59º28‘30“E Newton Burial Gr. : 13º04‘15'' N - 59º32’10“E
Ref.: 1992
Word File

The Secretariat of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Heritage Centre do not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other information or documentation provided by the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention to the Secretariat of UNESCO or to the World Heritage Centre.

The publication of any such advice, opinion, statement or other information documentation on the World Heritage Centre’s website and/or on working documents also does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of UNESCO or of the World Heritage Centre concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Codrington College: In addition to a prehistoric Amerindian occupation which is not the main focus of this proposal, the site has been continuously occupied since the mid-seventeenth century, first as a sugar plantation, and after 1710 as a sugar plantation supporting a college. The property entered sugar production in the 1640's as the Consett Estate, but was sold in the 1660's to the Codrington family. Extremely successful sugar planters, the second Christopher Codrington as well as his son, Christopher Codrington III, were appointed governors-general of the Leeward Island Station in Antigua. Christopher Codrington III was educated at All Souls, Oxford, and brought to Barbados much in the way of social improvement and new ideas in agriculture and architecture from his university education. Unmarried and childless, upon his death in 1710, Christopher Codrington III, willed his three Barbados sugar estates to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (S.P.G.; the developing missionary arm of the Church of England) with a long list of stipulations detailing construction of a college, education of its students, and management of the estates. The S.P.G. then began a program of construction and teaching which continued until the Codrington Trust was established in Barbados in 1983 to assume duties of management of the school and estates. During its tenure at Codrington the S.P.G. kept meticulous records of each year's activities, providing a documentary history of not only the college, but the sugar plantation itself, which are unparalleled in the Caribbean. The College today, affiliated with the University of the West Indies, offers degrees in theology, religion, church music and serves as the theological college of the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies. As part of a program of expansion and development, the College has been actively supporting the utilization of its historic and archaeological resources for the study of creolization and the early development of sugar in the Caribbean. The fact that the grounds have been a college yard since the early 18th century has protected the archaeological remains of the early occupations thus preserving a better archaeological context than can be obtained at other plantations where early deposits have been frequently obliterated by recent deep plowing associated with modern sugar husbandry. Archaeological excavations have centered on the seventeenth century sugar complex and on the Codrington Pottery Manufactory which produced the moulds and molasses drip jars employed in the manufacture of sugar at the Codrington estates, and for sale to other plantations across the island. Archaeological and historical research, which continues through today, began at Codrington College in 1990 when it was identified as a location where it would be possible to extract data relating to the early (seventeenth century) English/African interaction and where it would be possible to understand the mechanisms of creolization that evolved in Barbados and the rest of the English speaking Caribbean. Work to date has shown that incredibly rich deposits of seventeenth through twentieth century materials lie virtually undisturbed on the college grounds, yielding important data on diet, material culture, social organization, creolization, and the early development of the sugar industry. The archaeological materials are so meaningful because of their almost perfect preservation. The college yard is one of the very few country places on the island that has not been deep plowed for sugar cane husbandry. The site includes a seventeenth century plantation great house, the early 18th century college building itself, many nineteenth century outbuildings, the archaeological remains of the seventeenth century sugar factory (windmill, boiling house, curing house, distillery) as well as archaeological remains of the warehouse and pier in Consett Bay. The property also contains the archaeological remains of at least one known pottery factory and associated waster pile. Other ceramic manufacturies almost certainly exist, but are currently unknown due to lack of adequate reconnaissance of the entire 600 acre tract. Villages of the enslaved workers have not yet been identified with certainty, but post-emancipation villages are known archaeology. Refuse known to have been discarded by the enslaved has been found, including a few seventeenth century ceramic vessels made in a West African tradition. Such colonoware vessels were previously unknown in Barbados prior to their discovery at Codrington. Finally, as a bonus, Codrington contains a number of significant prehistoric Amerindian sites that reflect adaptation to the rugged east coast of the island as well as a very large interior occupation, unusual in the island, located near the very large freshwater Codrington spring from which three prehistoric burials have been recovered. Codrington contains a wide array of very interesting and important archaeological components. More importantly, as the only so far known archaeologically intact seventeenth century sugar complex it is critical to the larger concept of preservation of sites relating the history of sugar in the island and the understanding of the development of the sugar plantation complex which developed on the island and was then exported to the rest of the British Atlantic World. Morgan Lewis Windmill, St Andrew: The last sugar windmill to operate in Barbados: it stopped grinding cane in 1947. It was given to the Barbados National Trust by the late Egbert Lawrence Bannister for preservation as a museum. It is completely intact, rollers and all, but the arms were unable to move in recent years, until its recent restoration, completed in December 1999. Around the interior of the mill wall is a museum of sugar mill and plantation artefacts, and an exhibition of old photographs. Visitors can have the exhilarating experience of climbing (safely) to the top of the mill. It is a unique historic and architectural monument, as it is the only working sugar windmill of its kind in the world today. (Betty’s Hope, in Antigua, was refurbished and restored some years ago but is not functional). Morgan Lewis has been listed by the World Monuments Fund as a site of global importance, and was restored to working order under expert guidance by the Barbados National Trust with support from American Express, the World Monuments Fund and others. During the traditional “crop” season, February through July, its sails are put in place and it operates one Sunday in each month, grinding cane and providing cane juice - a unique historical re-enactment and one of the most dramatic sights in Barbados. St Nicholas Abbey Located in St Peter , St Nicholas Abbey, Drax Hall in St George and Bacon’s Castle in Virginia, USA, are the only three surviving Jacobean style houses in the Western hemisphere. They resemble the English Jacobean manor houses of the first half of the seventeenth century – the period between the Tudor and Georgian styles, beginning in the reign of James I. St Nicholas is believed to have been built by Benjamin Berringer, a prominent planter, between 1656 and his death in 1661. The property passed to Berringer’s son and then his grand-daughter, Susanna, who married a George Nicholas, after whom the plantation was named. According to the matrimonial law of that period, it automatically became her husband’s. It was later acquired by the eminent baronet, planter and legislator, Sir John Gay Alleyne, also through marriage, to Christian Dottin. He lived there from 1746 until his death in 1801. Alleyne family traditions hold that Sir John planted the impressive mahogany avenue leading from St Nicholas to Cherry Tree Hill. The plantation was bought out of the Chancery Court in 1816 by two Cumberbatch brothers. It is still owned by a Cumberbatch descendant. There is no religious connection with St Nicholas, or any abbey or religious order, and the full title was probably a nineteenth century affectation. The house has many interesting and attractive features, but the most striking are the curvilinear Dutch gables, with tall finials of carved coral stone, and corner chimneys. The entrance portico, Chinese Chippendale staircase and cedar panelling are later additions. The fireplaces and walled medieval design herb garden were almost certainly included in the original plans brought from England, and copied faithfully. The house is now open to the public, along with an intact syrup plant and a 1930s movie of plantation life. Newton Slave Burial Ground: Samuel Newton, an Englishman, in the second half of the seventeenth century purchased several small parcels of land in Christ Church and developed two plantations both called Newton that were in operation by the 1660’s. Mayo’s map of Barbados 1717-1721 identifies 1 plantation called Newton in Christ Church made up of 581 acres of lands. Newton was occupied by African slaves and their decedents during the period 1660 – 1834. The enslaved persons on the plantation numbered approximately 200-300 persons up to emancipation. Enslaved persons in the English speaking Caribbean originated from the Gold and Windward Coast and Bight of Benin prior to 1750. As it relates to Newton, it is presumed that its enslaved population were transported to Barbados by the Royal African Company and Dutch traders who captured and bought persons from the Gold Coast of Africa which will include present day Ghana, Togo, Dahomey and western Nigeria. The enslaved persons on this plantation utilised a sloping pasture area of 4500 square metres with its shallow soil and numerous rock outcroppings for the cemetery of the plantation. The fields’ inability to successfully cultivate sugar meant that it was left undisturbed during the period of slavery on the plantation, a situation that has lasted to the present day. Some 1000 slaves died on Newton plantation from 1670-1833 it is believed that an estimated 570 slaves are buried in the cemetery some in low earthen mounds, others in non mound burials. Excavation of these mounds has allowed researchers a glimpse into the diet of the enslaved, religious practices use to bury the dead including the placement of grave goods like necklaces, pipes, bracelets into graves , age at death, cause of death and the manner in which Newton’s enslaved population buried its dead. Earlier burials at Newton thought to be associated with enslaved African peoples are east headed with later burials becoming west headed indicating the changing population of the plantation becoming creolised - born in Barbados. Newton plantation is the only communal excavated slave burial ground in the Western hemisphere and is a part of the legacy that is the sugar landscape.