Letter: Liverpool and the slave trade: when a black child was a fashionable gift

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The Independent Online
Sir: Fritz Spiegl believes that the idea of a long-established black community in Liverpool is a myth and that 40 years ago there was 'barely a black presence, let alone a 'community' ' in the city. In 1954, I was living in Toxteth and was a member of Stanley House Community Centre, where my friends included Somalis, West Africans, West Indians and many light-skinned Liverpudlian blacks, most of whom could trace their Liverpool ancestry back at least three or four generations.

Mr Spiegl forgets the 1919 anti- black riots and the incident in the Belmont Road Military Auxiliary Hospital in 1918, when 50 wounded black soldiers were attacked by 400-500 white soldiers (a subsequent War Office inquiry found that the black soldiers were not to blame for the trouble).

He also states that 'hardly any negro slaves ever set foot in Liverpool' and suggests that stories of slave auctions in the city are 'romantic fantasies'. There are well-documented accounts of slave auctions in Liverpool in 1757, 1765, 1766 and 1768, while one street was so notorious for these transactions that it was known locally as 'Negro Row'.

Yours faithfully,


London, SW2

17 August