The Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill is the last of the many Barbadian windmills once used to produce sugar, and one of only two functioning sugar windmills in the world. Barbados, a British colony for much of its modern history, became one of the largest producers of sugar in the late seventeenth century, when sugar replaced tobacco as the primary commercial export. For over a century, a sugar-based economy sustained by slavery was the backbone of the economy. Today, though slavery ended long ago and the country has been independent since 1966, sugar remains an important export commodity for the country. The Morgan Lewis Mill ceased grinding sugarcane for commercial purposes in 1947 and was subsequently given to the Barbados National Trust for use as a museum and as a symbol of the economic and social history of the island. The mill slowly decayed in the twentieth century, however, prompting its placement on the inaugural Watch in 1996.
1996 World Monuments Watch
Following Watch listing in 1996, WMF convened a group of architects, engineers and craftsmen to analyze key problems at the site and to stabilize the mill and correct the deficiencies that threatened the building with collapse. Rotting timbers and other structural weaknesses necessitated the dismantling, repair, and reinstallation of the mill’s arms, wind shaft, and main cap frame. Thanks to WMF’s timely intervention the mill has continued to be a tourist destination on the island. It houses a small museum and grinds sugar cane to provide cane juice for visitors on one Sunday each month during the crop season.
The wind-powered sugar mill is one of the last of its kind and a monument to the once booming sugar industry on Barbados. The conservation efforts have helped sustain the mill as a cultural tourism destination and a source of income and local pride.