Te Kowai Sugar Mill

1874 - 1895

Te Kowai Sugar Mill 

A Parish of Howard Map from 1908 showing the location of the Te Kowai mill in the neighbouring parish of Greenmount.  The approximate location of the present BSES Ltd. (formerly Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations) is given by the red "X".

Thomas Henry Fitzgerald had controlled the Te Kowai land since 1865, waiting his chance to develop it.  In 1874, in partnership with Albert Throckmorton Ball, he established Te Kowai plantation, which was named after his estate in New Zealand.  Kowai is a Maori name for a small native flower of New Zealand.  A mill was erected on the southern bank of the lagoons, the former course of the Pioneer River.

Crushing began on 26th October 1874.  The mill was the second largest at the time and crushed out 15,000 gallons of juice daily.  The plant had been manufactured by W. & A. McOnie of Glasgow.  It had a set of three rollers 4 foot 6 inches long and 26 inches in diameter and a cane carrier.  A 30 horsepower engine powered the mill.  There were two large flat batteries, three clarifiers and three subsiders and a large vacuum pan.  Steam came from two multitubular boilers.  Te Kowai also had a distillery.

Fitzgerald was deeply in debt, and unable to meet his repayments and at the beginning of 1876 the A.J.S Bank foreclosed.  William Sloane and Co., to who he also owed money, then acquired Te Kowai installing Hugh McCready as manager.  The mill engineer, Joshua Pattison, was accidentally drowned in a tank of engine water in January1877. The mill and plantation proved to be profitable for Sloan & Co. with Te Kowai making a profit of 15,000 in 1877.

In 1878 Te Kowai made 1,080 tons of sugar.

The Melbourne Mackay Sugar Company took over in 1882.

The distillery closed in 1889 and the mill only crushed for short periods after that until it closed permanently in 1894 when it amalgamated with The Palms mill.

References -

Kerr, John. (1988). A Century of Sugar. Mackay, QLD:  Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association Limited. p.

Kerr, John. (1980).  Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council. p. 51, 53-54, 58, 72-73, 85, 99-100, 161, 171.

Manning, K.W. (1983). In Their Own Hands. Farleigh, QLD: Farleigh Co-op Milling Association Ltd. p. 17, 21, 23, 25, 42, 64, 78, 104, 122, 132-133, 143, 149.

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Glen Hall

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created 02 November 2003.
updated 18 July, 2017 .
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