Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sugar and Natal 1855

The first public auction of Natal-made sugar was held in Durban's Market Square, 23 June, 1855 - a historic event.

The engraving, left, from the Illustrated London News, is a snapshot in time depicting colonial life, the people of Natal and their costume. Auctioneer Robert Acutt's name can be seen displayed behind the wagon carrying the sugar - a relatively small quantity but the start of greater things to come.

Robert Osborn, in his book Valiant Harvest, mentions:

Acutt gave his services gratuitously on this occasion, and Henry Milner ordered champagne for the company present to toast the sugar enterprise... the Springfield Estate supplied some eight tons of sugar packed in gunny sacks enclosed in vacoa bags imported from Mauritius. The sugar was sold by the single bag, the several qualities averaging 30 shillings per cwt. The novel scene was the subject of a sketch by J Lloyd ... (later this appeared in the Illustrated London News)
Although the sugar auctioned on that day was made from Springfield cane, purportedly to have grown on Milner's estate, it was produced in fact by John Leyland Feilden, Milner's largest lessee - Feilden leased 130 acres of the total Springfield acreage of 250 acres.

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