Case Noyale – Sisal Aloes Fibre

  • Case Noyale is known as being one of the sites of Sisal aloes, Furcraea foetida agriculture. This plant from Central America was introduced in Mauritius in the mid 18th century. Despite not being native to the country, its use has earned it the common name of Mauritius hemp. The first use for this plant on the island was for the manufacture of ropes, which was also manufactured at the Corderie du Roy, which gave its name to the present-day Corderie Street in Port-Louis.

From plant to textile  

Case Noyale was one of the more recent  locations where this plant was cultivated,firstly from 1924 until 1956, then again from 1970 until 1979. A scraping device with blades attached to a wheel was used to peel the leaves that were placed manually on a table holding the device. For a long time, it appears that the technology never fully evolved to turn this into a viable industry until 1879, when Governor George Bowen proposed a reward of Rs 2,500 for anyone who would invent a new technology to improve the peeling process. This encouraged innovations which helped keep the industry growing.


Multiple uses

From the extraction of fibre, bags were made for the primary purpose of holding sugar in 80 kilo bags. In Bel Ombre they were stored in the Batelage before boarding the Côtiers which would sail them to Port Louis harbour for exportation. Most of the time these bags found a second life in people’s homes, being used as mattresses and door mats and were used to store food staples such as onions and potatoes.


Rise and demise

Between the late 18th and the early 20th century, the number of spinning plants quickly rose from around 20 to 100, leading to the opening of a bag factory in 1932. This bag production did not last long as its prices were not competitive in comparison to the bags imported from India, and the factory closed within three years. The production started anew in 1941, however, since the 1950’s, the sugar industry started to transport sugar in bulk putting an end to an industry which had been  second in importance on the island for a century.[1] 


[1] Jean-Pierre Lenoir, Bel Ombre, entre mer et montagne, Editions du Corsaire

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