The legacy of the transatlantic slave trade can be seen and felt in many aspects of modern society. Even in a small city like Wells, the impact of this dark chapter in history is still present. In this blog post, we will explore some of the legacies of slavery in Wells today.
Statues and Monuments
Many statues and monuments in Wells and throughout the UK celebrate figures who profited from the slave trade. These include monuments to individuals like Edward Colston, who made his fortune through the trade, and William Beckford, who owned extensive sugar plantations in Jamaica. While some argue that these statues are important historical markers, others believe that they should be removed or recontextualised.
Wells, like many cities in the UK, has streets named after individuals who were involved in the slave trade. For example, Tudway Road is named after the Tudway family, who owned plantations in Antigua and were involved in the transportation of enslaved Africans. Similarly, Pinder Close is named after William Pinder, a clergyman who used his wealth from the trade to establish himself in Wells.
Many institutions in Wells, including the Cathedral and the Theological College, benefited from the wealth generated by the slave trade. For example, William Pinder was the inaugural Principal of Wells Theological College and used his connections to the slave trade to fund scholarships for colonial missionaries. The Cathedral also has connections to figures involved in the trade, including Francis Henry Dickinson, a major patron who had his own connections to Caribbean slavery.
Despite the presence of these legacies, there are many individuals and organizations in Wells working to address the impact of the slave trade. For example, the Wells Anti-Racism Group, a local community organization, has been working to raise awareness of the city’s connections to the slave trade and to promote dialogue around issues of race and inequality.
Education and Awareness
Education and awareness are crucial in addressing the legacies of slavery in Wells and beyond. Many schools in the city are now incorporating the history of the transatlantic slave trade into their curriculum, while events like the Wells Festival of Literature often feature discussions around race and colonialism. The Wells Museum has also begun to explore the city’s connections to the slave trade through its exhibits and programming.
The issue of reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans has been gaining traction in recent years, with many calling for reparations to be made by countries and institutions that profited from the trade. While the idea of reparations is complex and controversial, some argue that it could be an important step in addressing the ongoing legacies of slavery.
In conclusion, while the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade may not be immediately visible in a small city like Wells, it is still present in many aspects of society. By recognizing and addressing these legacies, we can begin to work towards a more just and equitable future.