Guatemala and its connection with Ironbridge (Shropshire).

 “During the reign of Queen Victoria Britain emerged as the most powerful trading nation in the world…” Paul Atterbury. British History In Depth.


The town itself is known for its ornate church (complete with grisly depiction of Jesus), bustling Sunday market and the photogenic ex-sugar-mill-turned-museum and impressive stone aqueduct in the neighboring town of San Jerónimo. In addition there are a couple of very nice hotels and a few decent restaurants and cafes around the plaza.

San Jerónimo.

About 10 kilometers from Salami is the wonderfully atmospheric town of San Jerónimo. This is about as clean and pleasant as highland Guatemalan towns get. The weather, at a comfortable altitude around 1,100 meters (3,600 feet), is just warm enough. San Jerónimo has an interesting history, as it was here that sugarcane cultivation first made in-roads into the local economy with the establishment of Ccntral America’s first sugar mill by Dominican friars in 1601. The new crop came from Jamaica, along with new technology and 700 slaves from the island nation.

During the 17th century, the friars built a Roman-style aqueduct with 124 archways to bring water to the sugar mill and town as production continued to increase. Wine and moonshine were also eventually produced in addition to sugar. The growth of these industries would be checked in 1829 with the expulsion from Guatemala of various religious orders under the liberal government of the time. You can still see the old remains of the archways scattered throughout town, giving San Jerónimo a unique feel.

Museo del Trapiche.

The town’s most interesting attraction is the Museo del Trapiche set on the grounds of the old Hacienda San Geronimo, Central America’s first sugar mill. It once housed 1,000 workers and boasted a production of 90 tons of processed sugar per year, a figure matched only by the great sugar mills of Mexico and Brazil. 

Among the relics still in situ are a giant press and metallic waterwheel measuring seven meters in diameter and weighing a ton. The equipment was built by Fawcett Preston & Co of Liverpool (England) during the middle of the 19th Century. The company was founded in 1758, by George Perry, as the Liverpool branch of the Coalbrookdale Foundry at Ironbridge in Shropshire.

Next stage: Coban.

About Richard Griffith

My first independent travel experience was a trip to Israel, in 1997, it was here that I caught the 'travel' bug! In 2001 I took an 8-month sabbatical and traveled around South East Asia. Since then I have managed to visit most of Eastern Europe along with India, Bangladesh, and a few other destinations in between. I love travel and I love meeting new people.
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