Dumbleton Sugar Mill

1872 - 1887

Lloyd's Dumbleton Sugar Mill. c 1883.  
(picture courtesy of John Oxley Library, Brandon Collection no. 6298-0001-0046r. )

In 1865, Alfred Hart Lloyd selected portions 37 to 46 in the parish of Bassett, consisting of 747 acres of land that were to become Dumbleton plantation.  He soon after formed a partnership with Charles Walker and Walker named the plantation Dumbleton, after his home town in Gloucestershire, England.  He began building a home out of milkwood slabs for his wife and family, and Lloyd brought some bullocks down from the Blue Mountain run, which he also owned until 1876, to begin ploughing.

Although they grew some cane, their main cash crop in the beginning was maize.  The first Dumbleton cane was crushed in 1871 by John Spiller at his Pioneer mill.  The proceeds of this crop as well as a loan from Sloane & Co. enabled Lloyd and Walker to build their own small mill.  Machinery worth 2,000 was purchased from John Walker of Maryborough, and brought up the Pioneer River by boat.  

The mill first crushed in late 1872. 

By March 1873 there was 120 acres under cane, and the 2nd season, although still not up to full capacity, they made 1,250 or over half the capital cost of the mill.  The mill was situated between the River and Fursden Creek, which was known for many years as Spiller's Creek and ran through the middle of the plantation.  Dumbleton was quite successful in the 1870's when sugar prices were high.

By 1887 there was 400 acres of land under cane and Dumbleton employed 70 islanders and 20 white men.  This was a fairly low proportion of Islanders, and the difficulty and cost of securing Islander labour combined with low sugar prices caused the mill's closure.

The mill was dismantled in 1887 and sold.

By 1889 there was no cane growing on Dumbleton, which had increased in size to 1,189 acres, however it had a good name for top quality horses and bullocks.  The land lay fallow for some years until it was subdivided for farms.

Bassett Parish map showing the original selection of Dumbleton plantation portions 37 to 46 in the parish of Bassett just east of the present day Dumbleton weir.

References -

Kerr, John. (1980).  Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council. p. 48-49, 101.

Manning, K.W. (1983). In Their Own Hands. Farleigh, QLD: Farleigh Co-op Milling Association Ltd. p. 13, 48-49, 87-92, 131.

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Glen Hall

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