A Guide to Sites, Museums, and Memory

Fidelin Kiln Guadeloupe, France

This kiln, of which many remains can still be seen, was created by Jean-Pierre Fidelin shortly after 1760. He acquired a second pottery with his son at Trois-Rivières in 1785.

In the late eighteenth century, it would appear that pottery production focused almost exclusively on sugar molds and refinery pots. This production was required to meet the high demand from sugar refineries. Indeed, each refinery used around three thousand sugar molds, and renewals for regular breakages became a significant business outlet.

Sugar molds, which were over 50 cm in height, were produced in large kilns. Clay was brought in from Terre-de-Haut and worked by slaves on the pottery site. By 1811, the number of enslaved people working on the plantation had risen to 121, and would rise to 130 by 1837.

Not only were these enslaved workers employed as potters, they were also responsible for transporting the clay and the finished articles using oar-propelled canoes. Some were employed to cut the vast quantities of wood required for pottery production, while others loaded the kiln or worked the clay. Slaves were housed in some thirty cabins made of wood or wattle and daub, with thatched roofs.

From 1815 onward, when the market for white sugar collapsed, the pottery diversified its production. Flower pots, jars, pots with handles, and also tiles were subsequently produced in the Fidelin kiln. During the second half of the nineteenth century, operations became intermittent and then ceased permanently toward the end of the century.

Fidelin Kiln is part of the Slave Route—Traces of Memory network organized by the Conseil Général of Guadeloupe.

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