Uncovering the Ties Between Southampton’s Prosperity and the Caribbean Plantation Economy
The town of Southampton has had a varied history and by the eighteenth century it was re-established as a vibrant and wealthy spa town. Many people came to visit the spa near Mayflower Park and Western Esplanade to drink the waters and bathe in the sea.
A multitude of inns, hotels and coffee shops sprung up at this time to accommodate them and these included The Sun, The George, The Coach & Horses, and The Star which is still in the High Street today. These inns and coffee shops provided sugar tobacco, coffee and chocolate provided by Caribbean plantation owners who were making huge profits by using the free labour of slaves.
Some of the plantation owners were important businesspeople and politicians in the Southampton region and included sitting MPs.
This connection resulted in the presence of a small number of Black people and further information can be found in the books “A Black History of Southampton 16th century to 21st century” and “Black Stories Southampton” by Don John and available at October Books Portswood Southampton and The John Hansard Gallery Southampton.
Visit SeaCity Museum to see an exhibition exploring Southampton’s links with the transatlantic slave trade: Sugar Politics and Money. The display forms part of the Southampton Stories exhibition and shows how Southampton residents prospered from the exploitation of enslaved people, particularly in the Caribbean.
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