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Reload this Page ARCHIVE: Basseterre Sugar Factory, St.Kitts - March 2009
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ARCHIVE: Basseterre Sugar Factory, St.Kitts - March 2009
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Arrow ARCHIVE: Basseterre Sugar Factory, St.Kitts - March 2009 - 28-04-2009, 00:59

The St. Kitts (Basseterre) Sugar Factory was opened on 20th February 1912 to process the cane sugar from the plantations around the island, which had previously been processed by a multitude of small refineries owned by the plantations themselves.

A railway was constructed, which eventually circled the complete island to service over a dozen plantations and bring the raw cane to Basseterre Factory.
This comprised in excess of 30 miles of 30 inch gauge (or 762mm for those who only understand the French stuff) track with 25 small & large viaducts over numerous watercourses known as “Ghuts”, some up to 75 foot in length and 300 foot long.

By the 1970’s, sugar production had become uneconomic and the Government of St.Kitts & Nevis Nationalised the Factory in 1976, the plantations themselves following within the next 5 years.

Unfortunately, the industry never really returned to profitability, and with the continued emphasis on beet sugar in Europe, the market was effectively killed off, and the last trains ran about 2005.

Luckily for the railway, a large portion around the northern part of the island, about 17 miles long, has now become the St. Kitts Scenic Railway.
With 3 large Lyd2 600hp Romanian diesel locos imported from a sugar factory in Poland, and a rake of 4 air-conditioned double-deck bogie coaches for the tourist trade (mainly from passing cruise ships) it is quite busy.
(see their website for info)

A visit to the sugar factory looks like they went home for tea in 2005 and just didn’t return, although one exWD Motor Rail armoured petrol loco of 1917 has been returned to Britain for preservation.

From a recent book on the railway (ISBN 1-900340-18-6) there would seem to be 1 steam Loco & 23 diesel/petrol existing on site, although I only recorded 18 on photograph.
It would need a good 2 hours to do the site justice. There are also hundreds of derelict cane wagons.

There are nearly 70 photos of the site on my Photobucket account:

Someone elses Flickr account with pics as it was when in use:

A selection of my foray (taken with Canon 500N Film SLR) – I spent about an hour there before I had to return to the ship

A view of the Factory & Yard from the North East.
There are cane trucks on sidings in the vegetation to both the extreme left & right of the picture.

The railway weighhouse for weighing the incoming cane wagons.
This has tracks running both sides of the building and both sides have weighbridges.

A sign on the Weighhouse wall

SSMC 17 150hp Whitcomb (USA) of 1934

Inside the cab of SSMC 17

The Control Tower.
The line was single track with passing loops, train despatching being done over the telephone.
From here the trains all round the island were controlled using a circular display board with magnetic markers depicting each train.

SSMC 19 & 20 100hp Rustons of 1956 & 1952, both ex-Antigua in 1983

SSMC 11 100hp Ruston of 1957 ex Antigua 1979

SSMC 17 150hp Whitcomb (USA) of 1948, SSMC 4 36hp Ruston of 1951, & SSMC 11 100hp Ruston of 1957

Plates on SSMC 17

Probably the remains of “Churchill”, originally SSMC 13 150hp Davenport (USA) of 1947 – it was named so that it did not have to carry it’s number

SSMC 9 36hp Ruston of 1949 hiding in the undergrowth

No.5 Kerr Stuart “Brazil” class steam loco of 1916 built in Stoke-onTrent
This was derelict in 1972 when the other 6 steam locos were scrapped and somehow still survives.

Original number 11 45hp Davenport (USA) Petrol loco of 1925

Original number 10 a WW1 exWD armoured Petrol loco built by Motor Rail of Bedford in 1917

Crankcase plate on a large Belliss & Morcom 2cylinder stationary steam engine standing abandoned in the yard.

A view around the factory – some sort of loading chutes


Shed with landy

Sugar Processing Plant

Outdoor Lathe

SSMC 15 160hp Hunslet 0-6-0DH of 1982 & SSMC 7 116hp Hunslet of 1958 – probably the last locos that were in use
Standing at the wagon tippler shed for the rest
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