Rossinch plantation


This plantation lies beyond the Cairnie river, to the south/south west of the Cedarbank plantation and a road on the south side of Port Queenston leads over a wooden bridge to its gated entrance.

It represents a later era of production of semi-refined sugar, molasses and rum in the Caribbean. Its main house is more grand and its agricultural methods incorporate “holing” and dung fertilisation, and production processes are more sophisticated. There are also some cattle in one of the fields to the south east of the main house.

Main House

The main house is situated towards the south of the plantation and faces north, 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 dark oak planks.

This house has a grand entrance hall with a broad stairway up to the first floor, where there are three bedrooms opening from the corridor on the east side and another three opening from the corridor on the west side. Back on the ground floor there are administrative offices accessed from the corridor on the east side and, on the west side a reception room/library which communicates through to a family sitting room and a family dining room beyond. South of (behind) the broad stairway is a large dining hall with a double door in the far south west corner leading to a stair down into the basement just inside the door out to the cookhouse. The family dining room is reached from the cookhouse by climbing the aforementioned stair, going through the double door at the top then turning sharp left and entering a second double door on the left.

On the ground floor at the south end of the east corridor the recessed right-hand door in the south wall leads to a narrow back stairway in stone that goes downward to the basement and upward to a door leading into the east corridor giving access to the three bedrooms there. Continuing further up the back stair leads to the attic and straight ahead is a doorway through to a large area with storerooms to the left and slave quarters opposite. The slave quarters are equipped with straw mattresses and little else.

The basement 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 south west corner there is a double door out to the cookhouse and towards the south east corner a single door for trips to the well.

To bring fresh bedlinen etc. up from the basement, slaves go up the stairs beside the single door, past the first recessed door on the left and on to the second recessed door (on the right as the stair turns). This door leads into the first floor east corridor and its bedrooms, and on to the west side of the house via the landing.

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

Note the manager’s house under construction to the west of the grand house.


This plantation concentrates heavily on sugar cane, but also has one small field of wheat and has a slave yard in which some food items such as potatoes, carrots and melons are grown. The slaves allocated to yard tasks also look after some cattle, pigs and poultry.

Agricultural techniques are more advanced on this plantation, with better soil maintenance using dung, some of it obtained from the pen down the road. Note the dung heap north east of the main house (unfortunate that, as the prevailing wind is from the east!) and one or two carts loaded with dung en route. The use of “holingin field preparation is represented in a number of fields towards the south east of the plantation.

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


On this plantation a large windmill has been constructed, making use of the prevailing winds to crush the juice out of the cut sugar canes. The juice is collected in the large tray below and then runs down a large pipe eastward 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 an open sided barn on the west side of the boiling house.

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.

Between the boiling house and the manager’s 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.

a tool shed

Enslaved people’s area

The slave accommodation lies to the north of the process buildings amongst fruit trees. The houses are made mainly with wooden planks but also vertically placed logs of varied types, and this results in a rather untidy appearance. The houses are roofed with wooden shingles ‑ mainly spruce but sometimes patched with other types of wood. The houses are of various sizes, sometimes accommodating up to twenty people per unit. The floors are mostly bare earth, and straw is used for bedding.

Outdoor fires are used for cooking, cutting the fire risk to homes.

Garden areas are scattered throughout the site and slaves are forced to grow substantial amounts of their own food. Any excess produce could sometimes be taken to town and sold at the plaza open air market.

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

On the east side of the slave area there are five slave dwellings that are of better construction ‑ one for the overseer and four for craftsmen with various special skills.  The floors are wooden and raised above the ground, and straw mattresses are used for bedding. Note the whipping post in front of the overseer’s house.