To the north-east of Paramaribo – Suriname’s capital city – lies the village of Marienburg, site of a former sugarcane and coffee plantation. Founded as a sugar plantation in 1745, it was then turned into a coffee plantation before being abandoned. In 1882 it was purchased by the Dutch Trading Company and a large sugarcane processing factory was built. To facilitate speedy transport of the sugarcane from the surrounding areas to the factory Suriname’s first stretch of railway was built.
The company brought people from Java and India to work in the factory, paying them very little for their labour. In 1902 the workers went on strike; trouble flared and an angry mob chased down and killed the factory’s director. A detachment of soldiers were brought in to arrest the culprits and bring order to the chaos. Shots were fired resulting in many workers being killed and injured. The factory – the last sugarcane processing plant in Suriname - closed in 1986 and is now a tourist attraction. Some of the redundant workers still live in the former labourers’ houses.