Tryall Water Wheel, Hanover

I’ve heard of the Tryall Golf Course and Beach Club in Hanover on the outskirts of Montego Bay before, but I didn’t know that the property had a gigantic waterwheel. I noticed the Jamaica Heritage Trail signs while driving through the area some weekends ago, and decided to stop. I was in for a pleasant surprise. This still functioning cast iron waterwheel was assembled in 1700 by Henry Fairchild, the first owner of the estate. It was damaged in the 1831 Sam Sharpe Christmas slave rebellion but was subsequently restored.


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Getting There

The Tryall Club is approximately twelve miles west of Montego Bay on the main road between Hopewell and Sandy Bay, Hanover. As I mentioned earlier, there are a few signs on the way which detail the area as a heritage site so it’s not an easy spot to miss. If you’re only visiting the waterwheel like I did, and not the golf course and beach club, you can park next to some guys selling souvenirs and enter the property for free via a pedestrian gate. I’m not sure if one is allowed to see the wheel for free if they enter through the main gate. I hasten to add that entering through the pedestrian gate is permitted. The gate was open, and we passed a few golfers and caddies during our time there while taking pictures and admiring the infrastructure of yesteryear.

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The History of Tryall Estate & Water Wheel

The 2,200 acre property was originally home to the Tainos, the indigenous people and inhabitants of Jamaica. The Tainos usually inhabited places near to a fresh water source such as a river so it made sense that they’d choose this spot.  The Taino population was decimated in the 1500s by the Spanish who first came to the island in 1494. Next, Jamaica was captured by the British in 1655, after which a series of forts were constructed to protect the Jamaican coastline from reprisal. Fort Tryall was constructed during this period and still remains towards the east of the property (not seen during this visit). Next, the property was utilized as a sugar plantation and powered by African slave labour. The Tryall Water Wheel was built in 1700 and is powered by water from the Flint River. Water from the river is supplied to the waterwheel via an aqueduct which carries water down for two miles from the hills. During the wet season when the river is powerful enough, the waterwheel still turns. Unfortunately, the wheel was not turning on the day I visited. The waterwheel provided enough power to grind sugarcane and extract the juice. The boiler room in which the sugarcane juice was boiled to produce muscovado sugar and molasses was nearby, and the chimney still remains to this day. The stone-cut aqueduct also remains.

During the 1800s, the Tryall sugar estate was purchased by Eugene Browne who converted the estate’s chief crop to coconuts. The last sugarcane crop was harvested in 1918. At its peak in 1933, the property produced one million coconuts a year. In the mid-1930s, the Browne family converted the Tryall Greathouse into a guest house to augment the estate’s income with the fall in coconut prices, but by 1939 with World War II, Tryall was closed. The first Great House was built in 1747 when 176 slaves were recorded as being enslaved to Tryall. The current Great House, which was built in 1834, is the third such structure. The previous two were destroyed by hurricanes.

The Tryall Greathouse in the distance

Today, the Tryall Estate is recognized by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust as a part of our history worth preserving.

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Wrap Up

This discovery was a pleasant surprise and great detour before my next stop in Hanover. I love finding unexpected gems on my road trips, especially historical treasures. My best memories are the adventures I didn’t plan on having. Spontaneous is good. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! ‘Til next time.


Read next: Fort Charlotte, Hanover

Written by Rochelle Knight

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Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. Also a budget travel blog, Adventures from Elle is written by Rochelle Knight, a junior internal medicine resident who began this blog as a medical student & wants to see the world, starting with her own country. She frequents off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, beaches and places with interesting history. Join her in Jamaica!

22 thoughts on “Tryall Water Wheel, Hanover

  1. Interesting to think that so many of these historical sites are still in Jamaica that very few Jamaicans are familiar with. I applaud you for always exploring and letting us less savvy travelers know about this local gems to be explored. Thanks for another history lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At the moment they aren’t thankfully! I’ve been at a rural clinic since March and while the pay is substantially less, I appreciate having shorter workdays and free weekends. I’ve joined a gym and lost the stress weight I gained in 2020, gotten stronger, been making my own meals and eating better and just have more free time all around. I feel tempted to stay here forever. I’d never have this free time at the hospital.

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    2. I agree but the government also needs to stock these clinics. They’re so terribly underfunded that it’s ridiculous.. and frustrating. I always work in some crummy environment with just a curtain separating one patient from the other.. basic tools “wi nuh have that.” And then the pay is really bad. Like close to half less than working at the hospital so for now at least, health centre isn’t for me. But in the future, I could see myself doing it 🙂

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  2. Girl in Jamaica you guys really take care of these heritage sites. In Trini, we have a waterwheel very close to me but girl ain’t nobody stops there or cares that much, neither do I know the history of it. We should take a page from unu book. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes girl, we take care of some but not all. The Waterwheel in Diego is just at the side of the road… no biggie. No tours there or anything. Lol. Still here…wiating to visit Jam when things open back up 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a history of Tryall! From sugar cane plantation to coconut production, it’s seen a lot over the centuries. The slave history isn’t one to ignore, and it really sheds light on how society functioned with labor and economy in those days. I appreciate you sharing this place!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, and thanks for stopping by! Slavery is such an unfortunate part of our heritage, and like you said it isn’t one to ignore. As much as I enjoy exploring remnants of our colonial heritage, it’s always sobering to remember that these elaborate structures were constructed with slave labour from my African ancestors.

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  4. This looks like such a beautiful place for an excursion. I’ve never been to Jamaica, but all of your posts (and the photos!) make me want to visit as soon as I can. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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