Museum late: Black History Month

Thursday 19 October

This Black History Month, join us for a free evening opening of our exhibition Slavery & the Bank. Explore the history of transatlantic slavery through its connections with the Bank of England and the wider City of London.


During the evening opening, join us for a free, hybrid talk by Pat Hudson, Emeritus Professor of Economic History at Cardiff University, as she explores the impact of transatlantic slavery on public and private finance.


The impact of transatlantic slavery on public and private finance in Britain by Pat Hudson

When: Thursday 19 October, 6.15pm to 7.15pm (doors open at 6pm).

In the summer of 2020, when the statue of Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol, the Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing, and many institutions were questioning their historic links to slavery, the absence of an up-to-date, accessible study of the place of slavery in British economic history became apparent. Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution (Polity: 2023, jointly authored with Maxine Berg) is an attempt to remedy that absence.

Pat Hudson’s talk will concentrate upon just one chapter of the book: the impact of transatlantic slavery on public and private finance. It is no accident that the process of state-supported transatlantic expansion and industrial transformation during the long eighteenth century, saw London emerge as the leading provider of financial services for global trade and investment.

The expectation and realization of profits from the trade in enslaved peoples and from the cultivation and importation of plantation products, particularly sugar, underpinned aspects of the evolution of the national debt, fiscal capacity, and the formation of Bank of England policy.

Plantation investment and shipping brought innovation in stock and commodity trading, the mortgage and insurance markets, in multiplex financial transfers and in the expansion of commercial credit that integrated provincial merchants, manufacturers and banks with the resources of the London money market. The connection between Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave-system and innovation in the British financial sector is a much-neglected topic in debates about the impact of slavery despite its key important to the later development of the British economy.

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