Branscombe Sugar Mill

1871 - 1884

Branscombe Mill located on the southern bank of the Pioneer River c.1870's 

Branscombe was first selected by John Spiller.  His selections adjoined the western boundary of Alexandra plantation on the southern banks of the Pioneer River totalling 682 acres. Sugar selection 30 consisted of portions 28, 30 and 31 in the Parish of Greenmount totalling 336 acres. Sugar Selection 40 consisted of Portions 27 and 29 in the Parish of Greenmount totalling 346 acres.

Spiller sold the property to George Nisbet Marten and Edward Maitland Long in July 1870. Spiller had already prepared and planted cane and 54 acres were maturing to be crushed at Pleystowe.  The Union Bank held the mortgage over the plantation and wasting no time Marten and Long commenced to prepare the land and expected to have 160 acres planted and a small mill operating by the1871 season.

The equipment for the mill arrived on 10 May 1871 and the erection of the mill was completed at the end of September with the first crushing taking place in early October 1871.

Due to the mill's success in the first two seasons, Marten and Long repaid the debt and regained full ownership of Branscombe on 3 January 1873.

Due to financial losses suffered in the aftermath of the 1875 rust epidemic, Marten and Long sold Branscombe to Henry Maitland King on 7 November 1876.

In 1882, the Melbourne Mackay Sugar Company was formed. King with 15 A shares in the company brought the Branscombe estate into the company.  The mills at the Palms, Te Kowai, Nebia and Branscombe were operated as a single unit under the management of John Ewen Davidson.  There was a small bridge constructed over the Pioneer River which linked the Nebia and Branscombe plantations but this was washed away in the 1884 floods to .

The Melbourne Mackay Sugar Company rationalised its operations in the mid 1880's, partly as a result of the 1884 Pacific Island Labour Amendment Act which banned the employment of the South Sea Islanders in the mills therefore increasing labour costs to employ white labour, and as a result Branscombe was one of the mills that closed.

The area of the old Branscombe plantation is marked by a grove of Mango trees lining Eungella Road near the intersection with Branscombe Road.  The site of the mill itself is marked by a small grove of European trees along the riverbank .

1974 Greenmount Parish Map showing the location of the Branscombe plantation on portions 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31, and "X" marking the approximate position of the Branscombe Mill.

References -

Hamilton, Pat. (1994). Sugar from the Scrub. Moorooka, QLD: Boolarong Press. p. 25-28.

Kerr, John. (1980).  Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council. p. 43, 54, 73, 85, 99.

Manning, K.W. (1983). In Their Own Hands. Farleigh, QLD: Farleigh Co-op Milling Association Ltd. 7, 8, 12, 17, 21, 61, 64, 202.

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Glen Hall

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created 10 November 2003.
last updated 18 July, 2017 .
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