1919 Walking Tour

Sunday 24th April

This walking tour explores a little-known history in our city’s well documented past. The anti-black riots of 1919.


Inspired by Writing on the Wall’s hugely successful Great War to Race Riots archive project and the Black Lives and Legacies 1919 project in association with Liverpool University, this walking tour explores a little-known history in our city’s well documented past. The anti-black riots of 1919 were a watershed moment for Liverpool’s black community, the oldest in Europe.

On the night of 6th June unprecedented racial violence erupted in the modern-day Chinatown area that continued for days as gangs of people, reportedly in the thousands, hunted out “any black man they could find … severely beating and stabbing” them. Black homes and businesses were looted and wrecked as over 700 members of the black community were removed from their homes into the main Bridewell, for their own protection.

24 year old Bermudan sailor, Charles Wotton, tragically lost his life during the riots in what would be reported by newspapers of the time as a ‘lynching’. Official reports on the murder are vague but it is said that Wotton, after being chased by police and a large crowd, either was pushed, thrown or fell into Queens Dock. Once in the dock, Wotton was pelted with rocks by the onlooking crowd until he drowned.

Using official court documents, newspaper reports and images from the time the 1919 Walking Tour traces the events of the 6th June, visiting sites mentioned in official reports as well as the tragic last movements of Charles Wotton. On the tour we will discuss the rise in post-war xenophobia that allowed for the riots as well as the longstanding consequences for Liverpool’s black community.

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