Slavery and Manchester (Black Lives Didn’t Matter)

Saturday 24 July 2021

Ed Glinert, Manchester’s most energetic and experienced historian, leads a tour into the local angle at the heart of the slavery system.

Manchester has escaped the attention that the iniquities of slavery have focused on cities like Bristol yet it prospered from the horrors of slavery for much of the 18th century and in a remarkable about-turn was soon leading the campaign for its abolition.

The crucial moment was a meeting held at the Manchester Collegiate Church (now Manchester Cathedral) on 28 October 1787 fronted by the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. “When I went into the church,” Clarkson recalled, “it was so full that I could scarcely get to my place; for notice had been publicly given, though I knew nothing of it, that such a discourse would be delivered. I was surprised also to find a great crowd of black people standing round the pulpit. There might be forty or fifty of them. The text that I took, as the best to be found in such a hurry, was the following: ‘Thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt’”.

Manchester amassed the biggest number of signatures for the petition against slavery that went before Parliament. Sadly the petition was destroyed when the Houses of Parliament burned down in 1834.

While America continued to promote the system in the 19th century, Manchester led the move for Stateside abolition even though most of the raw cotton that fuelled the Manchester economy was picked by slaves in the Deep South.

This tour cuts straight to the heart of one of the most controversial and disturbing social systems ever devised. We hear how Manchester families such as the Heywoods and Gregs who benefited from slavery became its biggest opponents. We explain how the “Slavery Triangle” (Lancashire-America-Africa-Lancashire…) kept the system going, relate the stories of the escaped slaves such as Henry “Box” Brown, who once posted himself in a box from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia and who visited Manchester, and discuss how leading 19th century local Liberals such as John Bright and Richard Cobden not only kept the anti-slavery campaign flourishing but were even in contact with Abraham Lincoln.

* We finish the tour at Lincoln Square, even though the statue is currently on holiday.

More Manchester Listings MORE

Manchester Sunday 25 July 2021


Formed in the late seventies, Aswad, along with UB40, quickly became one of the most important reggae artists…

Manchester Tuesday 5 August 2021

Abnormal Sleepz

Reece Samuels, better known as Abnormal Sleepz, is a multi-talented artist emerging amongst a new wave of Manchester…

Stockport Friday 6th August 2021


Back for a 5th Year the amazing Edwin Starr Band with Angelo Starr and Northern Soul Legend Lorraine…

Manchester Thursday 12 August 2021


Omar, The UK’s King of Soul will be our first opening artist in The Recreational – Fairfield Halls’…

Manchester Friday 13 August 2021

Norman Jay MBE

Norman Jay MBE is unquestionably one of the most respected and popular DJs in the world today. Co-founder of…

Manchester Thursday 19 August 2021

Lupe Fiasco

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco , better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco , is an American rapper, songwriter,…

Manchester Tuesday 24 August 2021

Horace Andy

Live and direct from Jamaica, Horace Andy touches down in the UK. A legendary voice in reggae history…