My name is Peter Townsend and I was born in the UK. My family’s history is deeply rooted in the beautiful island of Jamaica. I was brought up with stories about my family after the abolition of slavery in 1834. My Great Grandfather James Townsend at the tender age of just 19, back in 1893, bought a plot of land and turned it into a plantation for growing sugar cane. His story became an inspiration to us all because times would have been particularly difficult starting a business during those years.
He began by selling his produce locally throughout Westmorland, eventually securing a contract to supply Tate & Lyle in 1938. The sugar refinery he would have delivered to was run by WISCO (West Indies Sugar Company) which was owned and built by the UK Company Tate & Lyle.
When James passed away at the age of 65, the plantation was inherited by my Grandfather Lopez Townsend who continued to develop the business and its products. This included additional sugar cane bi-products such as Molasses; which at that time was called Wet Sugar. He also produced Cherries, Hibiscus and Pimento.
When my father Brenton Townsend aged 25 met Glenies (who was to become my mother), he broke from tradition by eloping, and in fact rode off with Glenies on the handle bars of his bike to get married. He then emigrated to the UK in 1960 and Glenies following in 1961, my sisters, Juliet and Colleen and I were born in South London, but we were always told about our family back home.
I visited my Grandfather (Lopez) several times during my formative years, but unfortunately in 1981 he became quite ill, which prompted my mother and father to return to Jamaica and look after him, and to run the business which by that time he was unable to. Eventually Mum and Dad took over the plantation and Granddad passed away in 1982.
It was around this time I began to think of additional ways to develop products based upon the sugar cane we produced, naturally my thoughts turned to what is considered the Jamaican national drink, Rum.
However as the UK is my home, I had to develop it here. Researching rum production, I found the only UK distiller of rum, and with their professional help and unrivalled craftsmanship, I proceeded to develop a drink called spiced red rum. I tried it out on family and friends until it was refined to the product we have now, throughout this time my mum and dad were hugely supportive and it has become my dream (and was theirs) to bring the sugar cane, molasses, cherries and hibiscus direct from our plantation to use in its production.
Sadly, in 2012 Mum died and in 2014 Dad followed her, but just before Mum died I promised her I would follow through with my plans to bring this rum to the market place. The plantation is still owned and run by our family and is still producing a harvest of sugar cane each year and processed by WISCO which today is known as FROME Sugar Refinery.
I hope you will enjoy this product as I introduce you to,
Morant Bay Signature Edition Spiced Red Rum.