Home News & Events News Society Encountering Bath’s historic links to slavery

Encountering Bath’s historic links to slavery

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 Holburne Museum

This book of transactions from a plantation is believed to have been used by enslavers to record the sale of people. Most of the pages have been torn out.

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.”

Bath’s historic enslavers, emancipators and survivors

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 past and the future

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.

Citizens Advice, equality and equity

At Citizen’s Advice, we take an equity-based approach in reducing barriers to equality. This means that we’re always improving our understanding of systemic oppression and the way this impacts the groups and individuals we work with.

A key part of our work is challenging discrimination in all its forms, whether this is happening within large organisations, housing or education providers, shops, services or workplaces. Along with our expert advisers, we’re able to provide advice, information and options around discrimination, and support people through the process they choose.

People may think it isn’t worth speaking to us about possible discrimination, or they may feel nervous or afraid of doing so. Our approach is to equip people with the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions and support them in creating lasting change. We’ll never pressure anyone to take action and all conversations are private and confidential. We welcome any discussion around discrimination as we continue to work together for equality for everyone.

You can find out more about your rights regarding discrimination on our national website by clicking here.

If you’d like to talk to an adviser about discrimination or any other issues, you can do so Monday – Friday from 9.30am to 2.30pm by freephoning 0808 278 7897

Published in
30 August 2021
Last Updated
8 October 2021