All these Lancs locations are linked to the slave trade and you didn’t even notice
You see these names and places every day
It’s easy as a Lancaster student to forget what’s going on around you. If you’re not trekking it from Cartmel to County North for a seminar, or queueing up for Greggs, there’s very little time for processing Lancaster’s history. It’s probably something to do with Pendle Witches or the castle or the War of the Roses or something, right?
The harsh reality is that Lancaster was the fourth largest slave trading port in the United Kingdom. With very little acknowledgement of the city’s involvement, it is easy to see why students might not be aware of Lancaster’s past.
Here’s the ultimate guide to problematic places and names in Lancaster that we probably overlook every single day.
The ‘Captured Africans’ Memorial
This is the one and only memorial to slavery in Lancaster that is visible in the city. With not a single tourist sign or designated footpath it is easy to see why it isn’t well known. It might surprise you to hear that this memorial is only a stone throw from Sainsbury’s, yet many people don’t know it exists. Next time you go to Big Sains just to feel something, consider popping by to acknowledge Lancaster’s past.
The Robert Gillow
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably enjoyed a nice drink in the Robert Gillow pub, it’s one of the ones by the castle. It never struck me to find out who Robert Gillow was, I just assumed he was either fictional or some kind of Lancaster hero. Much to my dismay, Robert Gillow was actually a slave trader.
Lot’s of websites associate him with luxury furniture trade, but there was a lot more going on behind the scenes than exporting the finest wood. The pubs website claims that he was a “pioneer in the export trade” and that they “instilled this philosophy in [their] extensive drink range”. Some very interesting ways of putting it.
St George’s Quay
The quay as we know it today was designed during the slave trade. Prior to Lancaster’s involvement in the trade, St George’s Quay was unsuitable for trading. It was developed in the mid-18th century as a more accessible way of allowing large ships to come closer to the warehouses to unload. Lancaster slave ships carried in excess of 29,000 people out of Africa.
Just think, next time you’re going for a nice walk down the river, or for a pint in the Wagon and Horses, the ground you’re stepping on and the warehouses around you were all once linked to Lancaster’s slave history.
The Sun Inn
Next time you’re in the sun for a bit of a posher pint, or a Sunday roast, have a little think about its history. Originally, this pub was a coaching inn in the 1700s where merchants would meet, celebrate and make deals. Not so innocent feeling now is it? It’s known that on slave ship called “The Africa” was sold here.
Lancaster Maritime Museum
This building was designed by Robert Gillow’s son, Richard, keeping involvement in the trade well and truly in the family. This building was the Customs house at the time, where slave traders paid taxes for the goods they were trading.
Lancaster City Museum
Originally this building was the town hall. In this building, many slave traders and wealthy merchants were made freemen of the city or received other honours. One of these wealthy slave traders was called Hinde, which is a name many of you will recognise as Hinde Street is a predominantly student street in Lancaster.
Hinde Street is a largely student-populated street in Lancaster, as is this surrounding area Bulk and Ridge. Many a house party and pres can be found down here, and when you’re given the address you don’t tend to think twice. Hinde Street is actually named after Thomas Hinde, one of Lancaster’s slaver captains. He was the most active merchant in the slave trade in Lancaster, sending more ships to Africa than any other Lancaster merchant. Despite his involvement in the trade he was elected mayor twice.
Lancaster students love a trip to the Castle Hill, however that lovely green area was once home to the Satterthwaite family. That area might be the ideal selfie spot, or a nice place to relax in Summer, however it has a darker history. The Satterthwaite family were Quakers and in 1778 owned a slave named Fanny Elizabeth Johnson, who originated from St Kitts in the West Indies.
St John’s Church
Lancaster may have only one memorial to acknowledge the slave trade, but they also have one that celebrate those involved in the trade. On the side of the church there is a memorial stone dedicated to John Lowther. John Lowther was the owner of Lancaster’s last slave ship, “The Johns”.
No.1 Queen Street
This is a lesser known location on the list, but it is worthwhile checking out when you are back in Lancs as it reveals the true wealth the slave trade brought to the city. This grand Georgian house was owned by one of the wealthiest men involved in Lancaster’s part of the slave trade, William Lindow. Lindow made his wealth trading Africans between the different countries in the West Indies. He also kept an African slave in his house named John Chance.
Lancaster’s history isn’t all witches and battles
Maybe next time when you walk through the streets of Lancaster you will see some buildings in a different light. Next time you take a selfie in one of these locations, or think about how grand some of these buildings are, take a moment to consider why they are here in our city.