|Remains of the iron rollers of Castle Bruce Mill which crushed the sugar cane produced on the estate|
The mill is all in ruins now because the stones of the buildings were taken to use for building the Roman Catholic Church in 1950 and for other construction. However, near the main playing field, hidden by a large ficus tree, one can still see the tall chimney tower that served the estate factory. In 1827 the estate was being worked by 167 enslaved people and produced sugar, rum and molasses. This produce was shipped from the bay in canoes, which took the barrels of produce from the beach out to ships anchored in the calmer, deeper water, near the islands at the southern side of the bay.
The Estate Abandoned
During the period of maroon or runaway slave, Negre Mawon, uprisings in Dominica, particularly in 1814-1815, large numbers of enslaved people on Castle Bruce estate took off into the hills to secure their freedom. After the full emancipation of the slaves in 1838, Castle Bruce was more or less abandoned by its owners. The former slave families became peasant farmers and cows were left to roam all over the estate valley. The village at that time developed along the boundary of the two big estates, Richmond and Castle Bruce, because after emancipation, all those persons who were not working on the estates had to move and find land for themselves. The place where they used to live down by the bay on estate lands was known as 'Kai Neg'. It is now part of a village extension housing scheme and the old name is not in use. In the 1830s a new group of people of African origin came to Castle Bruce. In 1837 and at other times around those years, ships carrying enslaved West Africans across the Atlantic Ocean and destined for colonies and states where slavery had not yet been abolished, were captured by the British Royal Navy. The slaves on board were disembarked on the islands including Dominica and were liberated. Some of these free Africans settled in castle Bruce. Other areas where these persons were set free included Soufriere, Woodford Hill, Portsmouth and St.Joseph.
House at Jalousie, Castle Bruce, c1910
In the 18th century Joseph Senhouse owned land on the northern borders of Castle Bruce and that part of the new free village became called Senhouse. Other names such as Jalousie were given to different parts of the village as it grew up the hillsides. Life in the village was very simple. There was no electricity, piped water, telephones or motorable roads and everyone had to walk if they wanted to get to Roseau or go north through the Carib territory. The most direct way was to walk on a track through the forest past the Emerald Pool and then to Pont Casse and so to town. Otherwise people walked to Rosalie via St.Sauveur and over the Lake Road and then past Laudat. Some people who had a lot of produce to carry took a canoe all the way around the south of the island, but this could be dangerous. It was a life of self-help, Koudemain, when everyone helped each other. The entertainment was in the form of traditional dances such as Bele, Quadrilles, Flirtations and Lancers and with storytelling, 'contes' and 'tim-tim" tales.
20th century Castle Bruce
By the late 19th century Castle Bruce Estate was owned by J.F. Johnson, but he lived in Roseau and little was done to make the place productive. There was no road to transport produce to Roseau and few ships called at Castle Bruce bay any longer. When Mr.Johnson's daughter, Janet, inherited it, she only visited her land once in her life, and left overseers to take care of the place. Land was given for a one room school that was built in 1931 and still stands today. Eventually she sold it to the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) in the 1950s. CDC built up the estate once more, planting coconuts, cocoa and bananas and employing many villagers.
In the 1950s many people left Castle Bruce to emigrate to the United Kingdom
and later to the US Virgin Islands and mainland America itself. In 1972 controversy
over the firing of some 54 workers and protest action, led by Atherton Martin,
resulted in government intervention and the breaking up of the estate into smallholdings.
The village was connected by motorable road in 1963 and the size of the village
and the services available such as clinic, police station, enlarged school and
a variety of modern conveniences have grown significantly since then. With the
roads open many of the best pupils of the village school went to High School
in Roseau and never returned to live in the village but with jobs in Roseau,
the capital, set up homes and families in the suburbs such as Canefield and
Goodwill. For more details such as the establishment of the Village Council
and famous people in the history of the village itself it would be interesting
for young people to embark on an oral history project to talk to, and record,
older people who can still remember Castle Bruce in former times.