Glasgow launches detailed study of its historical links with transatlantic slavery

Bravo! ~ Vida


THIRTY years ago, Glasgow gave the name “Merchant City” to a historic quarter of the city centre.

Few eyebrows were raised at the time but, as Susan Aitken, the present leader of Glasgow City Council, said this week, such a move would today be “unthinkable”, for Merchant City, a popular residential, shopping and leisure area, has streets named after merchants – tobacco lords, and members of the “sugar aristocracy” – who profited on a substantial scale from the slave trade.

As the historian Professor Michael Lynch observed a decade ago, “nowhere in Britain does the built environment act as a more overt reminder of the ‘Horrible Traffik’ than the streets and buildings of Glasgow’s Merchant City”.

This week the council became the first in the UK to launch a major academic study into historic bequests linked to transatlantic slavery.

To be carried out by Dr. Stephen Mullen, a noted academic historian who has studied the city’s links with the trade, it will leave no stone unturned.

There will be four specific stages. A detailed audit will be carried out into historic bequests made to Glasgow Town Council, to see if there are any connections with transatlantic slavery. Statues, street-names, buildings and Lords Provost with any such connections will also be examined.

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