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  • Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.

The Abandoned Brechin Castle in Trinidad

By: Trademark Attorney Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth (Fort Lauderdale)


https://ttao.ca/news--info/brechin-castle-a-quintessence-of-trinidads-lost-sugar-history


https://mapio.net/pic/p-4379263/

https://trinidadexpress.com/news/local/the-sugar-mills-will-be-demolished-petition-to-save-historic-factories/article_758084fc-6262-11ea-8624-fff5178f8ebf.html

https://www.facebook.com/jasonxphotography/photos/pcb.3833242396705807/3833240360039344

https://www.facebook.com/jasonxphotography/photos/pcb.3833242396705807/3833240360039344


By the 1960s, nearly all of Trinidad’s sugar was produced by Caroni Limited, owned by the British company Tate & Lyle. The government bought this company in 1975 and it was renamed Caroni (1975) Limited. It produced sugar, rum, molasses, and bagasse (“the dry pulpy residue left after the extraction of juice from sugar cane, used as fuel for electricity generators”).


Caroni (1975) Limited’s factory was the now abandoned Brechin Castle in Couva. In 2003, the government shut down Caroni (1975) Limited. The decision was met with much controversy and speculation, and left 20,000 factory workers displaced.


In 2015, the government opened The Sugar Archives Centre and the Sevilla Sugar Museum at Brechin Castle but it was never opened to the public, according to NewsDay. The museum is now empty and there were plans to demolish Brechin Castle.


The demolition was also met with public outcry on the grounds that the demolition of the site would erase important aspects of Trinidad’s history, the history of enslaved Africans, and the history of Indian indentured servants.


For background, Trinidad, Guyana, and the Caribbean were often overlooked until their natural resources made them useful for foreign powers, as Dr. Eric Williams explained. Sugar, cocoa, petroleum, and oil attracted international investments for centuries.


Sugar was the dominant industry in Trinidad when the United Kingdom first colonized Trinidad & Tobago. In 1787, Picout de la Perouse allegedly opened the first sugar mill. That site is believed to be the present-day Lapeyrouse Cemetery. Enslaved Africans, Indian indentured servants, and later free workers in factories harvested and produced the sugar. In the 1880s, several small estates struggled to profit and sold their estates to the larger sugar plantations. The large sugar factories were also referred to as “usines.” Other British companies abandoned sugar altogether.


The remaining sugar plantations and factories were mainly located in the fertile plains of central Trinidad and around San Fernando. The large factories would grind the sugar canes from local estates and farms, often run by Indians and Indian descendants, and transport the sugar via trains.


The sugar industry was surpassed by the cocoa and oil industries in both production and resources. One reason was that Europe transitioned to beet sugar instead of the cane sugar in the West Indies. The higher wages in the oil industry further attracted many workers from Caroni (1975) Limited.


Caroni (1975) Limited’s reign and ultimate demise exemplifies the perils of valuable Caribbean industries. Natural gas and oil industries in Trinidad and Guyana are expected to drastically increase in the upcoming years. Proper corporate management and government oversight are warranted to prevent mismanagement and conflicts analogous to those in the Middle East’s oil industries.


Trinidad’s government is also encouraged to preserve these remaining sites given the already limited history of the region.



Sources:

A History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago by President Dr. Eric Williams

http://caribbeanhistoryarchives.blogspot.com/2020/05/welcome-to-virtual-museum-of-sugar.html

https://ttao.ca/news--info/brechin-castle-a-quintessence-of-trinidads-lost-sugar-history

https://newsday.co.tt/2020/03/12/sevilla-house-for-sugar-museum-not-brechin-castle/



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Weekly articles on Caribbean empowerment through history education and legal protections.

Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a trial-winning trademark and business attorney. She primarily helps new and small businesses with trademarks and contracts. She writes articles on the importance of trademarks, trademark law updates, and also West Indian history (with an emphasis on India, Trinidad, Guyana, and the United States).

Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is of Trinidadian and Guyanese descent. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a minor degree in History that focused on the slavery and indentured servitude eras, a minor degree in Criminology, and a Juris Doctor degree.

MDGR Law, P.A.

PO Box 101794 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310-1794

(754) 800-4481

melissa@mdgrlaw.com


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