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When the author discovered that sugar was being refined in a boiler at an inn in Ormskirk in the 1680s, only sixty years after the successful cultivation of the cane in the West Indies, she decided to plot the emergence of the industry around the region and discovered that a fascinating industry existed from an early time. Although sugar cane had been grown since classical times, it was not until the 1600s when it was introduced to the West Indies that refining came to the North West. Entrepreneurs from towns including Liverpool,Che ster, Warrington, Manchester, Lancaster and Whitehaven determined to invest in the process, each for their own reasons. The Danvers family moved their refinery to Liverpool after the plague and fire of London, while the Whitehaven refinery was built by Lord Lowther to exploit the coal deposits below his town. Similarly each centre had a different reason for its decline. The increase in the size of the ships created difficulties for importers in both Chester and Lancaster, while greed spelt disaster for both Ormskirk and Whitehaven. Nevertheless the growth of the industry led to an increase in the infrastructure of the region. Using original documents to trace the influence of various personalities on the development and later decline of all but the Liverpool refineries, has been a fascinating project.