A Guide to Sites, Museums, and Memory

Roussel-Trianon Plantation Guadeloupe, France

Ruins of the windmill tower and sugar complex
Ruins of the windmill tower and sugar complex, Roussel-Trianon Plantation, Guadeloupe.

In the late seventeenth century, Trianon had undoubtedly already become established as a sugar plantation. From 1720s-1740s, it was owned by Nicolas Bonhomme, a creole-speaking native of the island of Marie-Galante. It was then successively bought and sold by the Fossecave and Botreau-Roussel families. Prior to abolition, sugar plantations primarily used naturally produced power for sugar cane transformation: wind or livestock mills on Marie-Galante.

The windmill on Roussel-Trianon Plantation is one of the most impressive of its kind on the island. The quality of its carved stone lower section and decorations (carved eight-pointed star, hearts, etc.) shows the fine skills of the stone masons, masons (perhaps free and enslaved), and carpenters. The plantation prospered in and around the Revolutionary period, and moved progressively to steam power from 1845 onward.

In 1860, Victor Roussel, the owner of Trianon Plantation, became the first man in Guadeloupe to introduce Derosne & Cail triple-effect machinery for boiling operations, probably at the same time as the new buildings that would make up the Trianon production unit were being completed. One of the site's most interesting points is that it reveals that modernization in the sugar refining industry had started before abolition, relying on slaves more familiar with the "old system" for the most technical part of the work, i.e. the transformation of cane juice (known locally as Vesou) into sugar using steam power.

After 1848, the same workforce, mainly made up of "newly freed men," continued to operate the high-performance production unit, comprising laborers for the industrial part and planters for the cane fields.

Roussel-Trianon Plantation is part of the Slave Route—Traces of Memory network organized by the Conseil Général of Guadeloupe.


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