Antigua’s sugar history
This is a sugar plantation site where one of the two sugar mill towers has been fully restored complete with sails. With a small interpretation centre, interpretation signage throughout the estate, this heritage landmark is well worth a visit. Betty’s Hope was one of the earliest sugar plantations, dating to 1651. In 1990, restoration began and continues. The Bettys Hope Trust works with visiting schools of archaeology during the summer, to complete research on the estate.
Like other large plantations, Betty’s Hope was an agricultural as well as an industrial enterprise, and home to a large number of people. Supervised by a handful of European managers, hundreds of people of African origin lived out their lives on this and similar plantations, first as slaves, then as labourers after their emancipation in 1834. Enduring the hardship of cultivating and processing the sugar under exhausting conditions, they developed great skill as craftsmen, boilers and distillers. The people of Betty’s Hope were especially skilled, and the Estates reputation for excellence lasted to this day.
Throughout its 300 year history, Betty’s Hope played a prominent role in Antigua and Barbuda history and influenced the lives of many generations of Antiguans.
Today about 112 sugar mill towers still dot the countryside of this independent nation, reminding us of the days of slavery under King Sugar. A map of the remaining mills can be seen at the Interpretation Centre.