Cedarbank plantation


This plantation lies to the west of the Tarravale plantation and a road on the south side of Port Queenston leads to it.  It has a fairly basic, stone-built entrance to the plantation, and a wooden bridge over the Marnon river.

It represents the earlier era of production of semi-refined sugar, molasses and rum in the Caribbean. Its main house is a bit more grand and its production processes are substantial. There are also some cattle and pigs in fields to the south east of the main house.

Main House

The main house is situated to the north of the plantation and faces south, has two stories and an attic, with a basement underneath. There is a cookhouse and a well at the back. The floors are constructed from oak planks, perhaps a bit more basic than the smarter looking dark oak planks used in the grander Rossinch House.

This house has three bedrooms, a library/office, a large dining room, a sitting room and a linen cupboard.

On the ground floor a door in the north wall leads to a narrow back stairway in stone that goes downward to the basement and cookhouse and upward to slave quarters in the attic. On the west side, the dining room has a large fireplace and the room is readily accessible from the cookhouse via the aforementioned door just outside the north door of the dining room.

The attic is accessed by the back stair from the basement just east of the cookhouse door, the ground floor corridor door or the first floor linen cupboard in the north east corner. The attic is divided into room spaces equipped with straw mattresses for domestic ‘house’ slaves and little else.

The basement has a bare earth floor, is large, covering the whole of the footprint of the house, and has shelves and tables for storing meal ingredients and bed linen. Near the north west corner there is a double door out to the cookhouse and towards the north east corner a single door for trips to the well (for water for laundry purposes) without getting in the way of the cookhouse waiters. Access from cookhouse to the dining room is through the cookhouse door, immediately left up the grey brick stairs, through the first door reached then right into the dining room.

To bring fresh bedlinen etc. up from the basement, slaves go up the grey brick stairs, past the first door and on up to the second door, which opens into the linen cupboard.

The cookhouse has a range with open fire and a selection of tables and work surfaces.


The main crop is sugar cane. There are two areas where slaves have cut semi-circular swathes into the crop and are loading bundles of canes onto carts to supply the slave-driven mill.

There are other cultivated areas where new canes, or other crops, have been planted.

Note that a few horses have been corralled near to the wooden-built process buildings.


The sugar cane mill is the building with the “conical” roof. Note the long (pale) poles that angle up to the drive shaft that rotates the vertical rollers that crush the juice out of the freshly cut sugar canes into the large tray below. These poles are used by the slaves to drive the mill, the constant tread of their feet round the circular path wearing the underfoot soil down to the stones beneath.

Cane juice then runs down a large pipe westward into the boiling householding tank. Juice is then transferred to a series of five vats where the repeated boiling concentrates the juice. Note the roaring fires under each vat. Skimmings and impurities are scooped off into the skimmings tank (and later to casks) before the concentrated juice is transferred to a large cooling cistern. Further transfer to cooling pots precedes the filling of clay pots where crystalline sugar separates from molasses. After a time, breaking of the pots allows access to the semirefined sugar which is spread out to dry in large trays in open sided barns.

The dried, semi-refined sugar and the molasses are put into casks for transport to town, or for use in the distillery in the production of rum.  These casks along with the casks of skimmings and inferior juice are moved over the yard into the distillery to the south, where the contents are poured into a fermentation vat. Later, the fermented juices are put into the still where they are heated to distil off the rum alcohol vapour which passes through the condenser and is collected in wooden barrels.

The barrels of rum are stored in the more secure rum store nearby until most are transported by cart to the dock for eventual export.

To the north and north west of the boiling house are situated:

a carpenter’s workshop where items such as fence sections and gates are constructed

a potter’s hut and kiln where clay pots are thrown and fired

a cooperage where barrels are made for various cane sugar products

a blacksmith’s forge where various metal items can be crafted, such as nails, bars for the rum store windows etc.

Enslaved people’s area

The slave accommodation lies beyond the process buildings and the houses are made with vertically placed logs of varied types and roofed with leaves, also of varied types. The houses are of various sizes and are often poorly maintained, appearing randomly patched. Note that a few houses in the north west part of the slave area are circular, typical of the type of home the slave occupants may have come from in Africa. The floors are bare earth and straw is used for bedding. Sometimes distance between houses is rather small and, especially in houses that risked indoor fires, substantial fire damage could occur. Towards the south east of the slave area two dwellings have been burnt down and two nearby houses show that indoor fires were used. The rest of the dwellings in the area use outdoor fires for cooking, cutting the fire risk to homes.

The area surrounding the dwellings is scattered with piles of logs and bales of straw (for refreshing bedding).

Near to the process buildings, there are five slave dwellings that are marginally better equipped ‑ one for the overseer, one for the skilled boilerman, and three for other craftsmen. The skills of these men made them more valuable and they enjoyed marginally better living conditions. Note the whipping post in front of the overseer’s house.