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The discovery that cane sugar was being refined commercially in a soap boiler behind an inn in Ormskirk, only fifty years after the cane had been introduced to the West Indies, led the author to research the industry as it became established in the North West. This fascinating study charts the progress of entrepreneurs from towns including Liverpool, Chester, Warrington, Manchester, Lancaster and Whitehaven as they invested in the process, each for his own reasons. The Danvers family moved their refinery to Liverpool because of the plague and fire of London, while the Whitehaven refinery was built to exploit the coal deposits beneath the town. Similarly each town had a different reason for its decline until the Liverpool refineries dominated the industry in the nineteenth century.