Liverpool’s Hidden Horrors of Slavery

With Liverpool City Council about to unveil a selection of information plaques on a handful of streets connected to the city’s slave trade history, this short film explores some of the hidden horrors and slave traders who have slipped through the net to escape being named and shamed.


Many of them unfortunately former Liverpool mayors. One of them, William Gregson, was behind the infamous Zong Massacre of 1781 and can claim more than 9,000 slave deaths during his long and wealthy career which he later passed on to his sons.

Many Liverpool locals want the street names changed. Others want to see information plaques on ALL the streets and places connected to the trade. Not just a select few which appear to have been strategically chosen with tourism in mind and to deflect away from some of the more prominent public figures which include various politicians.

This film asks if Liverpool City Council is trying to airbrush its past and requests that the Mayor acknowledge ALL the streets and landmarks associated with the slave trade.

Together we can bring about these changes.

Many of the photographs in this film are in the Public Domain. Attribution for others are as follows:

  • Councillor Joe Anderson, Leader of Liverpool City Council. By Merseyside Social Enterprise Network, 2010. CC BY 2.0
  • Lord Mayor of Liverpool Gary Millar in 2013 (Slightly Cropped). By ElloDolly. CC BY-SA 3.
  • The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Anna Rothery – By RichieMac – CC BY-SA 4.0

Public Domain:

  •  Slave Branding, 1853
  • The Slave Trade by August Francois Biard, 1840
  • The Abolition of the Slave Trade or the Inhumanity of Dealers in Human Flesh Exemplified in Captn. Kimber’s Treatment of a Young Negro Girl of 15 for Her Virjen (sic) Modesty (1792)
  • A Negro Hung Alive by the Ribs to a Gallows by William Blake (1796)
  • Barco en el que se Transportan Negros para su venta en Europa y América (FAL)
  • A Liverpool Slave Ship by William Jackson (Cropped)
  • Stowage of a British Slave Ship, Brookes (1788) – Created 1 December 1788
  • Punishing Negroes at Calabouco (Cropped), by Augustus Earle, 1822
  • Portrait of William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898). Photographer Samuel Alexander Walker
  • Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying — Typhoon Coming On (“The Slave Ship”) By J.M.W Turner (1840)
  • Zong Crew Throwing Sick Slaves Overboard, 1781
  • Warehouses etc at the End of the Tunnel Towards Wapping, by S.G Hughes, 1831
  • Railway Office, Liverpool, by S.G Hughes, 1830s


I disagree that the names of the streets should be changed – this is another form of airbrushing from history the things we now consider unacceptable. It is much more important to remember and acknowledge the crimes that were committed in the past. It is also important to remember that prominent figures were not commemorated with statues or by having streets named after them just because they were slave traders – it was because they used their wealth for philanthropic works that benefited the city. I support the idea of having information plaques explaining the links to slavery in all relevant locations.

Too right, Susan. Above all else, we must keep reminders of the worst atrocities in the forefront of our minds at all times. We must never forget the names of the murderers, the dictators, the nonces! Why stop at keeping the ones we’ve got? I say we change the name of your street to Stalin Lane. Better yet, doesn’t Saddam Hussein Lane have a nice ring to it?

Change the names.
The city must know where the foundation of it’s wealth springs from. To not change is to continue participating in the revisionism Liverpool and it’s overt race un-relations are infamous for.

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