Thursday, 20 September 2012

Slave Trade in Warrington

On our way back from Scotland we drove through Warrington....I have to admit that I don't have many good memories of my time in  Warrington and I really didn't like the Lever factory...but there were some very interesting buildings. Years ago an Irishman in the town, Mr Walsh told me a story of him having a demolition job.
Beech House....demolished in 1995 along with other listed buildings.....perhaps someone knew what was hiding in the cellars. If you click on Beech House link above, you will see that there was quite a demolition spree in 1995...goodness knows how they got away with it.
One of which has since been knocked down....The building was down a little lane close to Central Station,  and the building had a dark dusty Dickensian look about it. Luckily with the wonders of the internet I managed to track a photo of the building....Beech House, 13a Winwick Street.
At the end of the lane was a yard ,where there used to be some small cottages. In the '60s  (approx) Mr Walsh had the job of demolishing the cottages and was told to fill the cellar of Beech House with the rubble. He remembers going into the cellar and seeing metal rings around the room....he thought it looked like a place where slaves would have been chained to the wall. With Liverpool not far away it could have been used for this purpose...so  I thought I'd do a bit of research to see if I can find anything out.
It turns out that The local schools did a project in 2009 about Warringtons links with the slave trade. The Old Stanley works, now Sankey Valley Park had copper works that produced the raw materials used in making trinkets and 'manillas' African currency. These goods filled empty ships that sailed to Africa. The metal was used to trade for slaves which were then traded in for for sugar, cotton, indigo and cotton.The ships then came back to England...making more money for the shareholders all the time. Terrible that these goods were worth more than human life. Apparently there were books showing the names of the privateers..which were bought up by the same families trying to hide their links to the slave trade...perhaps some of these slaves arrived in Warrington.The first owner of Warrington Town Hall was Thomas Patten (1690-1772)a leading man in the slave trade. There are stories that slaves were kept shackled in cellars in isolated farmhouses around Morecombe Bay, and in houses in Bristol but I don't know if any are known in Warrington. If anyone does know more I'm sure that Liverpool Museum would be very interested.
I realise that these stories are painful and some people think that they shouldn't be talked about, but it is part of our history and knowing the stories can hopefully make all people treat each other kindly as a human first,  rather than focusing on our races and cultures.
For more information on the slavery trade please click on the following link http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/resources/slave_trade_ports.aspx

3 comments:

  1. I think that they might have been for the bed slings for resident apprentices and boarding employees and not slave shackles as you suggest.

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  2. I used to live in this house from being about a year old to 7 or 8 years old. I remember the cellar but don't ever remember rings in the wall, but I don't suppose it would have interested me at that time, although I have quite good memories of the place, ie the inside rooms, as I loved living there. One of the unused rooms had large jugs in (probably because the roof leaked) but I was afraid there and thought they were something to do with Ali Baba hidden in them.

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  3. My gran ran the hairdressers shop in the front of it, the flat buildings, and the dress shop next door still used the 'parlour' of the house as a store room for dresses. We used the house 'kitchen' (a very large room, probably about 24' long) as our living room and used the scullery as our kitchen. After we had moved out, I'm not sure who lived there but at some time it was used as a hairdressing salon, run by the lady who used to be one of my gran's apprentices.

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