The Island of Boa Vista is blessed with an enormous amount of clay that was once the basis of an important industry. Said to have been established by the descendants of enslaved people who were taken to the island to act as goatherds. The Fabrica de Chaves was once the dominant ceramic factory on the island.
In the early 20th century, however, the industry collapsed. Once the buildings were no longer maintained they largely fell into ruins. It is said that this was, at least in part, due to the weight of drifting sand on the relatively weak roof structures. The sand dunes on the island are an important feature and the systems are very dynamic.
There is now little trace of the large dune which did the damage. The most obvious remaining structure is the large chimney, which can be seen from miles around. The first successful ceramics factory on the island after many years was designed as a training school to train potters.
Other smaller-scale ceramics workshops have now been established. From the top of a set of steps at the rear of the “school,” leading to a rocky platform, one can look down to the coast and across the town cemetery and see the chimney of Fabrica de Chaves, forming a local landmark next to Chaves beach.