Things to Do In Antigua – Betty’s Hope

Things to Do In Antigua – Betty’s Hope

One of the more interesting things to do in Antigua is to visit the only restored sugar mill on the island that has working sails, at Betty’s Hope. Antigua was the center of the sugar trade for many years in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century. Slaves were brought to the island to grow and process the sugar that was destined for the tables of the wealthy in Europe. The heavily wooded island was denuded of trees in the pursuit of sugar and nowadays the ruined remains of sugar mills can be seen all around the island. A revolt, planned by Prince Klaas and  precipitated by the awful conditions in which the slaves were kept,  was discovered and forestalled, but slavery did come to an end in the early eighteenth hundreds.

Today, apart from just one restored sugar mill at Betty’s Hope, all the mills are in ruins or have fallen apart completely. Betty’s Hope was a sugar plantation in the centre of the island with two mills and produced more sugar than any other mill on the island. One of the mills was fully restored in the late twentieth century and has working sails and original sugar processing machinery, although not originally from Betty’s Hope. It was run by the Codrington family from the early seventeenth century who introduced some innovative techniques for processing the sugar cane. Helped by the constantly blowing trade winds the mill could produce over five thousand gallons of syrup a year. The sugar syrup was processed into sugar crystals to be sent to Europe and the molasses was used to make the famous Antiguan rum.

There is also a Visitor’s Centre, housed in the old cotton store , with maps, pictures and information on the history of the Codringtons and Betty’s Hope. Here you’ll be able to find out more about the history of sugar in Antigua and how the sugar cane was processed into sugar crystals and rum.

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