Morewood Memorial Gardens, Verulam

The Morewood Memorial Gardens mark the contribution of Edmund Morewood to the establishment of Kwazulu Natal’s very important sugar industry. The site is located on the farm Compensation where he grew first planted sugarcane and was the first to successfully refine cane juice into sugar. Morewood was first granted the land between the Umhlali and Tongaat Rivers in 1848 and it seems that he immediately planted sugarcane which had arrived in Natal from Mauritius aboard the vessel Sarah Bell in November the previous year. There were six acres of cane growing at Compensation by 1850 and, by the end of January 1852, Morewood was able to walk into the offices of the Natal Times newspaper with a sample of sugar made on his farm.

 

The Times noted that, although the equipment used to make the sugar was ‘limited and defective’, the sample of sugar shown did not ‘indicate that fact’. It was popularly believed that the rollers for crushing the cane at Compensation farm were made from the mast of a ship wrecked off the Natal coast. A definitive history of the sugar industry dismisses that claim and says that, although such rollers were made, they were never used. It says that Morewood used a section of yellowwood tree covered with tin, like an outsize kitchen grater, and that the cane juice was boiled in a large iron pot. The site is maintained by the SA Sugar Association.

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