You may be surprised by how deeply Bath’s residents were involved in slavery.
Monday, 23 August, was International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. One of our team walked around some of Bath’s buildings with links to the Slave Trade.
Our Business Development and Marketing Manager, Douglas Eason, did the walk in his capacity as a member of the local council’s Race Panel, which seeks to tackle some of the region’s issues around race and discrimination.
The walk started at the Holburne Museum, built using the profits of slavery and housing a book that once logged transactions that often concerned the sale of people. Many of the pages in the book were removed years ago, possibly by the enslavers.
While in discussion with other Race Panel members, Douglas said: “For many years, it seems like Bath struggled with or even ignored its links to slavery and this book, with the pages removed, might be regarded as representing the city’s desire to overlook the part it played in the Slave Trade.”
A refreshing feature on the walk were buildings linked to members of the anti-slavery movement, such as Charles Ignatius Sancho and Emma Sturge, who made a stand against the trade.
However, hearing the names of slave owners on the Royal Crescent was a shocking moment. Practically half of the houses on the crescent were formerly the homes of enslavers. That brought to light the true magnitude of Bath’s role in the Slave Trade. What made it worse was that you didn’t have to own a slave to support the trade.
The number of slaves owned by the people who were mentioned ranged from 5 to over 600, but many more residents invested in plantations too, which also helped to support the Slave Trade. As residents put their profits into Bath banks, which then funded local infrastructure projects, we started to see how much slavery contributed to Bath’s development.
The walk concluded with a look at the Abbey’s new exhibit, focused on people connected to slavery who are commemorated in the Abbey. Outside the Abbey, Bath MP, Wera Hobhouse, spoke about how important it is to look at our history to ensure our future is more inclusive.
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