Socialist Worker

Everywhere in Chains - Wales and Slavery

by Bethan Jones
Issue No. 2051

This exhibition strongly makes the point about links between Wales and the slave trade. The transatlantic slave trade underlays many aspects of the social, political and economic development of Wales and had an impact on almost everyone.

From the industries that helped fuel the trade – iron, copper and woollen cloth – to the products that Wales consumed – sugar, rum, tobacco and cotton – everyone was touched by it.

Many Welsh industries also owed their prosperity to connections with the slave trade.

During the second half of the 18th century, Wales controlled half of the world’s copper and by 1800 Swansea was producing 90 percent of British copper.

Much of this was used to fuel the slave trade. Factories made bar iron and copper goods that were used by slave traders to buy African slaves. Welsh captains and seamen served on those ships made by Welsh ship builders to transport slaves.

The Cyfartha iron works were built on the profits of slave estates.

Holyhead was used as an alternative port to Liverpool to land slave-produced goods.

The people of Wales were also at the forefront of the fight against slavery – lobbying governments, helping escaped slaves and campaigning for abolition.

The exhibition looks at Wales and slavery and explains the legacies in modern day music and culture.

Everywhere in Chains – Wales and Slavery exhibition, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea until 4 November.

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