London Vacation Day 2, Slavery Exhibition

Day 2 – Docklands Museum also in Greenwich click here

All photos taken by me within the Exhibition.

Reading Part 1 (again with my photos) may help a little with background to this posting, lol saves me repeating myself again!

‘Is it not strange to think, that they who ought to be considered the most learned and civilized people in the world, that they should carry on a traffic of the most barbarous cruelty and injustice….are become so dissolute to think slavery, robbery and murder no crime?’

Honestly speaking, apart from watching American movies (love Tarantino’s Django Unchained) sadly my knowledge of African Slavery, Plantation life in North America, sugar/tobacco production in the The West Indies WAS very sketchy before today, in my defense American history wasn’t taught in British schools, so understandably I knew very little and probably the reason I found the Slavery Exhibition at The Docklands Museum captivating.

Most Brits will be aware of the notorious and disreputable ‘West India’ also ‘East India’ Companies, their ships crisscrossing the oceans from Docklands creating an Empire, plundering the world’s treasure as their own in the name of The Crown, HOWEVER I had been unaware (should have been) ‘Great’ Britain supplied the shipping for the transport of African Slaves, many hundreds over three Centuries!

Thames Docklands has a truly disreputable past, Slavery Empire and Colonialism all inextricably entwined.

Maritime trading allowed European nations to impose European rule across Africa, established colonies as their own. This contributed to an assault on African identities, and from the early 1600s onwards London merchants were importing increasing amounts of gold and ivory, sugar tea, tobacco and silk. 500 years ago little was known about Africa, a little knowledge came from the writings of Portuguese travelers in the 1500s, but often those mixed truth with fantasy.

Legends of fabulous cities of gold mines hidden in the heart of Africa and mythical tales of black people replaced real knowledge. This, in turn led to a dismissal of African cultures, and as Africa became the principal source of human Slaves for the new world of the Americas, perhaps Britain’s ignorance fed racism which, in turn, came to justify brutal exploitation.

Ottobah Cugoano, Narrative of the Enslavement of Africans of Africa, 1787.

(Below) Portrait of George Hibbert a highly successful ‘West India’ merchant and slave owner owning a large number of Plantations in Jamaica. An MP (no less) and leading member of the ‘West India Merchants and Planters’, he played a key role in the defense of the Slave trade.

In the parliamentary debate on abolition, Hibbert argued “that a greater number of acts of cruelty occurred each week in London than a month in Jamaica”.

In 1834 his family received £31,120 compensation for 1,618 Slaves.

Britain is finally coming to terms with Colonial Slavery, marble statues have been removed, cultural institutions renamed, business paying compensation for centuries old crimes…………..oh how distinguished George looks in oil and canvass, sadly there are many many more! Now should they be removed from Art Galleries? Rewrite our history?

(Below) The names of enslaved men, women and children are listed here. Children were put to work from the age of seven. Those too old to do heavy work managed the livestock, collected animal fodder or nursed the sick…..says so on the plaque.

(Below) Painting titled ‘The Island of Fort William Estate with Part of River Roaring, 1778’.

(Below and clockwise) Sugar Cane harvest, Preparing the ground, Selling Sugar, Use of Sugar in confectionary, Use of Sugar in tea, Skimming the Sugar, Boiling the Sugar.

(Below) During the 1700s Britain was the leading slave-trading nation, A half of all Africans transported across the Atlantic into slavery were carried in British ships.

(Below) Once boiled, the sugar crystallized a thick liquid called molasses, ‘cakes’ later exported to Bristol, Liverpool and Thames Docklands.

1. Earthenware sugarloaf mould 1670.
2. Earthenware molasses 1600s.
3. Plantation token 1688. During reign of King James II the price of Tin collapsed. To help recue owners of mines in Britain from financial ruin the government began mining Tin coins for use in Plantation currencies.
4. Machete, 1880.The machete also known in the Caribbean as a ‘cutlass’ was both a tool and an instrument of punishment.

(Below) In 1783, the packet ship Antelope was wrecked on the Pellew Islands in the East Indies. The crew were befriended by the local islanders who helped them them build a new vessel in return for help in conquering rival islands. When the crew sailed away they were accompanied by the 19 year old Prince Lee Boo, who lived in London until his death 13 months later. Lee Boo’s well intentioned yet patronising treatment in England was a form of exploitation.

………………………and of course The Docklands Museum contains so much more treasure and historical document. 🙂 Go visit if you have the opportunity……………and it’s free of charge!

A. Shepherdson 2021

And so the racial bloodletting begins :(

Just so as you know I’ve learnt a great deal about Britain’s involvement in the slave trade, or should I re-phrase that, British businessmen financed by British banks, sailing their transatlantic ships to West Africa where they captured and enslaved Black African unfortunate souls. Now fully laden with a desperate human cargo they returned to selected American States, to live and die in forced labour camps (cotton plantations), with the grand finale of transporting bales of hand picked cotton to Lancashire cotton mills, and in the process making a great many White men vast amounts of money….. and there lies Britain’s twenty first century guilty problem, now it’s people are expected to accept a seventeenth century Trader’s guilt as their own.

F*** that……… I’m not playing that game!

I get it! But I’ll be damned if I’m going to feel guilty for crimes I neither committed or were party to……. George Floyd didn’t deserve to die chocked to death under the foot of a racist policeman, Black lives matter I get it, now this atrocious crime has triggered British blood letting the like of I’ve never seen before. Statues celebrating slave Traders ‘good work’s’ paid for by blood money are toppling (the beginning), but perhaps leave them standing, attach a bronze plague with the words:

‘Here stands Slave Trader Edward Colston a racist’,

then allow intelligent passers-by a moment of thought and contemplation as they remember just for a second, this figure cast in bronze before them enslaved and sold human beings.

After much thought also searching of the soul I’ve come to a momentous decision I AM NOT going to be party to this circus I’m going to phrase ‘hunt down everyone with a tenuous historical connection to slavery’, nope I’m not going to use what little time I have left on this planet apologising for my country’s Colonial past, nope I’m taking no part in this hate filled campaign to search every cultural nook and cranny in the hope of finding places, songs, people that may or may not have an association with Britain’s shameful slave capturing past. Yes truly awful, but to be quite honest I’m not gonna expend emotional energy saying sorry to every do gooder liberal who’s deeply offended by ‘my’ chequered past, I didn’t do the crime!….. I’ve enough to worry about with Brexit, Covid-19 and my employment.

Who knows perhaps my Grandfather’s business published sheet music with the words and melody to a happy negro singing a plantation tune, could have happened, and this one example of a ridiculous charade will play out in White families up and down the land, all wondering if they to have a connection to Britain’s slavery.

Just leave it be.

One other thing, I’m not partaking in this orgy of mudslinging where everyone is accusing everyone else of being racist……. a ridiculous spectacle to the point where the word’s true meaning is lost!

Boxer Anthony Joshua says Blacks should only donate to Black charities…… what a lovely thing to say 😦 and heal a nation.

America’s race riots are little over a week old, life will return to a normality and hopefully change will blossom into a country where Blacks and Whites can co exist (more) peacefully, I’m saying no more, not my business. However they’ve triggered British racial tensions that are only just beginning, 80 Policeman have been assaulted, police cars pelted with stones as they pass city streets, riots in major cities and lol hundreds of road signs to be renamed……… it’s only the beginning oh and btw we’re living through a health pandemic killing 42,000 people…….. just saying!

You’d like an example? Ok then, Liverpool’s Penny Lane, made famous by The Beatles is “in danger of being renamed” if links to slavery are found. Researching will take time but people won’t wait for democracy to run it’s course, nope in the in-between time, iconic Penny Lane was last week defaced following claims it’s associated with 18th century slave merchant James Penny. You see the city of Liverpool has a dark and shameful past their politicians and citizens would rather wished never happened, hundreds of years ago the port of Liverpool carried around 1.5 million enslaved Africans on approximately 5,000 voyages, with the vast majority going to the Caribbean. Vast wealth was accumulated, schools and hospitals constructed in Colston/Penny’s names but these good works now count for nothing…….. and perhaps they shouldn’t? Discuss.

So Penny Lane one of the most beautiful soulful ballads ever written, is to be no more, mark my words if a connection is discovered the Beatles song will be removed from Radio playlists, dropped by Spotify. I kid you not, remember the most financially successful film ever made ‘Gone With The Wind, has been dropped by HBO (ok lol, I agree the content is err a little questionable 😉 ). My take on the hysterics surrounding Penny Lane’s ‘should it stay or should it go?’ My opinion for what it’s worth is leave the Street be and keep the name Penny Lane, yes this song’s inspiration just may have been James Penny, but so what, what better way to remember this evil slave trader’s shameful past than have a Street named after him for everyone to read and see….. and as for all this money time and effort trying to research if there is a connection……. why doesn’t someone pick up the phone and ask Paul McCartney! (I’m 🙂 rather pleased with that observation all my own.)

A. Shepherdson 2020

Life is a matter of Luck and Chance!

I’m not at work. It’s raining outside. So why not write a post?

On any given evening, by the time I’m ready to turn in for bed only one all consuming thought will be on my mind, perhaps I should re phrase, yes I’ll be brooding reflecting on several but only one shocking story will accompany me to sleep.

Brooding

Brooding is the worst, preparing myself for the next days hassles I’ll face at ‘blank’, a ‘blank’ full of his own self importance, his personality traits verging on narcissistic, classic inflated ego traits with delusions of grandeur and a ridiculous misconception that he is attractive to women. Jeeze at age # and chasing after 18yr old Virginal students (🤔 questionable) is sad to the point of creepy we’ll watch open mouthed staggered with,

“Is he serious they suck up to you for one reason so as he’ll complete their…….” we say to ourselves,

Yes they’ll bring broken bikes into be fixed but little do they know he sniffs the saddles soon after they’ve gone, do women have any comprehension this goes on? Does the thought ever cross their mind that men will put a nose to their saddles hoping to smell intimate feminine odours?

I don’t! Never have! Never will!!!

I’m digressing but a fascinating case all the same.

Reflecting

At the end of the day several thoughts will be on my mind, problems I’ll face tomorrow, hassles I’ve encountered that day, family issues that have to be faced up to, my father’s health is a frigging nightmareand the overriding days disaster that’s hit a part of the globe.

If there’s only one certainty in life it’s that one single awful shocking catastrophe has occurred today! Or as in yesterday, being a section of Italian motorway and bridge disappearing taking 39 people’s lives along with it, the longer I live the more I’m convinced life is but a matter of luck and chance. One of the images of that disaster I’ll probably remember will be that stationary truck stopped but meters from the roads end, 2 seconds later and both lorry and driver would be underneath rubble coming to rest in a stream.

Luck and chance!

Jeeze the number of posts I’ve written in draft themed, life is a matter of how lucky we are to avoid something anything, and how a life s direction can change simply by chance, bump into a lady in the supermarket and 3 months later you could be standing alongside her dressed in white, you about to put a ring on her finger.

Luck and chance!

Thoughts of tomorrows problems, family issues, a world disaster will accompany to bed AND one quirky unusual darn right creepy story that’s been on my mind ever since I first heard this sorry tale as I did today.

Shocking

The true story, is true because I trust the BBC never to publish fake news, a young Romanian woman’s account of the day she’d been snatched from the street, bundled into a car and driven to the north of England, locked in a suburban house for nine months and forced to prostitute her body for sex.

Yes she’d been seconds away from entering the front door of her house, the key inside the lock then hours later she was having to endure the hellish existence of men she didn’t want having sex with her. From the time she was captured to the day she’d been rescued this European citizen working in London had been in effect raped by 1000 men……… I guess ghoulishly compounded by the fact every penny had been taken by her captors, yes she’d been fed but their slave had been denied medical attention because she’d bled many times.

That human beings are enslaved in third world countries I’d read about, and accepted as drawback of living in an ‘uncivilized’ country, that a young woman is pulled off a busy London street and driven to a house for men’s depraved sexual  pleasure was honestly shocking, one because Britain is a prosperous country with laws an excellent police force, two because well Britain is a moral and safe place to live.

Then I had the sudden realisation, a cold shudder down the spine moment, how many more young women are right now living in housing estates across Britain, being raped daily and worse still may never be lucky enough to escape or only when they’re no longer of use!

Hmm scary thoughts as I went to bed, if I had a daughter living alone in a far away British city I may at that very moment make a phone call check, enforce rules, warn and lay the law down………. well I haven’t but you get the idea, but is enslaving human beings a new phenonium in England?

Of course not 200 years ago in Victorian England brothel owners would visit stagecoach stations looking out for young naïve country farm girls, attracted to the bright lights of London hoping to work as chamber maids for nice decent city families. However I’ve read a very different tale of one notorious well-known London madam, an infamous criminal who would meet those coaches arriving from deepest rural England, who would trick the girls into coming home with promises of a safe bed for the night, yet little did they know the bedroom meant years of disease ridden sex work.

So what has all this to do me? Nothing only last night that shocking thought was sex slavery still goes on.

A. Shepherdson 2018