Bath’s last legal slave-owners: a short walk in Bath in the Pulteney Estate

White, R (2016) Bath’s last legal slave-owners: a short walk in Bath in the Pulteney Estate. Bath, UK, 26 October 2016.

Item Type: Performance
Creators: White, R
Abstract: An artist-led walk exploring plaques, memorials and absences, thinking about the Atlantic slave trade, legacies of slavery and slave-ownership. Wayfaring through the enchanted city, gathering views, images and sharing thoughts.
Date: October 2016
Event Location: Bath, UK

When Charles II licensed and invested in the Royal African Company in 1672 giving it 'the whole, entire and only trade for buying and selling bartering and exchanging of for or with any Negroes, slaves, goods, wares, merchandise whatsoever', he launched an enterprise that would change the planet.

In the 1830’s the UK Government abolished the status of slavery in the western part of the British Empire. The trade in human lives and the horrific ‘middle passage’ across the Atlantic had been banned at the beginning of that century but slavery continued across the Empire. The legacy of slavery and slaveownership is with us today. This walk seeks to explore those difficult and hidden legacies.

Bath prides itself on its free thinking, radical past. William Wilberforce, the champion of the campaign to abolish the slave trade is memorialised as is Hannah More, anti slavery campaigner and leader of the sugar boycott. In the days after the abolition of the trade Bath was also home to those who continued to profit from the labour of enslaved people and campaigned to retain the right to own slaves. As their campaign failed they demanded compensation.

Bath’s Last Legal Slaveowners took a share in a £20million government payout for the release of their slaves. The slaves received nothing, most becoming indentured labourers on the plantations they had been freed from.

In this walk we will visit and bear witness outside the former residencies of anti slavery campaigners as well as those who enjoyed the wealth generated on the Atlantic trade and benefitted from the compensation.

We may consider a city far more multicultural in the Georgian period than todays movies represent, booming on plantation wealth. We may consider the first stirrings of ideas of universal human rights. We may consider what happened to that share of the £20 million, £1billion in todays money.

Perhaps it will take us to obesity, climate change and reparations. Or capitalism, globalisation and institutional racism.

Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2017 19:45
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 19:36
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