case 3 Sugar being made and shipped

Images of Sugar Being Made and Transported


Making sugar was a laborious business from start to finish. From the time the cane was planted, through cultivation, harvesting, and the many steps of processing the cane juice into its final form as granulated sugar, human hands and eyes, mostly those of slaves, were required to tend the processes. These images show a portion of the labor involved.


The two aquatints in this case are derived from William Clark's Ten views in the Island of Antigua, published in 1823. A set of images from the work was first published by the Ladies' Society for Promoting the Early Education of Negro Children, intended for classroom use. Our set, taken from that work, was published by the Infant School Society Depository, London, 1833.

Richard Bridgens West India scenery, with Illustrations of Negro Character, the Process of Making Sugar, &c. from Sketches Taken During a voyage to, and Residence of Seven Years in, the Island of Trinidad 1836

A boiling house, with a battery of cauldrons for reducing the cane juice to sugar. The juice was purified in the first cauldron (sometimes the first two) by boiling and skimming with long ladles. Ladles were also used to transfer the juice from cauldron to cauldron as it reduced and thickened.

Sugar mill and mill yard

Sugar Mill

Cane being carted from the fields to the mill. The standard mill in the West Indies was an arrangement of three rollers, through which the cane was passed twice to extract the juice. This kind of mill was an improvement over the mills used in the earlier sugar industry in the Mediterranean but still extracted only about half the juice.

sugar casks being loaded into a small boat from the beach

Shipping Sugar

Clark gives a description of the hazardous method of conveying the hogsheads of sugar on board the ship. The small boats into which the barrels will be loaded are called drogers. Clarke identifies the setting as Willoughby Bay, on the southeastern coast of Antigua.