This has been an exciting year for the Africans in Hull and East Yorkshire project team. We have worked hard over the last twelve months to deliver a story, blog and short ‘What’s New’ piece every week, an exhibition and several public engagement events. Below is an overview of what we've been up to in 2017, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
R E S E A R C H
worked in Hull and East Yorkshire between 1750 and 2007. These include a runaway slave who settled in this region (click to read the story of Frederick Brown), a man who was down on his luck and tried to commit suicide (click to read the story of James Philadelphia Moore), people who contributed to the local entertainment industry (click to read our blog post about Leon Riley) and those who settled here and had families (follow the link from Stories Archive to Family Histories above). In particular, the eleven personal histories and family stories we have received has shown generosity and a willingness to engage which has generated a lot of positive responses. These have been supplemented with the 30 oral histories and the associated transcriptions which have been completed this year and have ultimately contributed to giving us a true reflection of what life was really like for people of African descent who lived and worked here throughout the centuries.
post which will take you to various stories). Through prior historical research we knew that this was the case in other areas with larger Black populations such as London, yet Black soldiers who signed up to join the East Yorkshire Regiment have remained unknown until now.
We have new stories of Black soldiers in the East Yorkshire regiment coming out in the New Year so make sure keep up with all our releases via our What’s New blog.
P U B L I C E N G A G E M E N T
This year has been packed with public engagement events. As a result, we have had a wide range of people who have participated and engaged with our project including children, adults, local historians and academics. Engaging diverse groups would not have been possible without the generosity of a long list of people who have helped us by volunteering, completing administrative tasks or spreading the word about our project. A massive thanks to everyone who has taken part!
as the families of those who featured in the exhibition, the Ghanaian High Commissioner, the Lord Mayor of Hull, William Wilberforce and several councillors for this area.
Click the links to take a look at our exhibition photographs and the fantastic comments we received and take a look at our Media Page to see how tv and newspapers reported the project and exhibition.
Events Connected to the Exhibition
The opening night of our exhibition was attended by over 100 people who had supported the project in one way or another. It was fantastic to see everyone who had made the exhibition possible all in one place sharing this unbelievable achievement.
During the exhibition we held two events, one which was aimed at school children and the other at adults. Both were a success and were very well received. Click our exhibition and events roundup blog post for more.
Public Talks and Conferences
This year we have attended and spoken at a range of events to tell people about our exciting project and to share our findings. We have been keen to showcase all the information and provide advice to individuals/other projects because we hope that it will inspire more people to get involved in Black history.
In March, we attended the What’s Happening in Black British History Conference and spoke about Black sailors and their experiences in Hull and East Yorkshire before, during and after the First World War. This was followed by a Heritage Open Day event in September, where we delivered a paper entitled ‘African experience in Hull and East Yorkshire'. In October, we delivered a taster session at Hull History Centre’s lunchtime club to showcase some of our findings. More recently, in November we were invited to speak as a panellist at the Engage Conference which is an annual event that brings together arts and education professionals from across the United Kingdom and wider afield. This year's focus was an exploration of diversity, equality and access. Taking part in all of these events has demonstrated how important projects which include diverse and often forgotten histories are in shaping the future.
The Project in the Media
Over the last twelve months the project has received a lot of attention from the media allowing us to have a constant TV, radio and online presence. This has enabled us to reach audiences on a national and international level. We have featured on Estuary TV, BBC radio and TV, ITV as well as articles in various online magazines and podcasts.
To watch, listen or read some of our media broadcasts click Project in the Media
T h e P r o j e c t i n 2 0 1 8
Unfortunately, we only have around five months left of our project because it ends in May 2018. However, we have ambitious plans right up until we finish. We have a list of stories and blog posts that we will be releasing including pieces on seaside resorts and criminality among many others.
We are also planning for our exhibition at Beverley Treasure House in May and the fantastic events which we are organising to run alongside it. These include opportunities to meet the project team, engage with Black history and learn something new about East Yorkshire.
We would like to end our round up of the year with a huge THANK YOU to you for following and engaging with our project. We hope to see you in 2018!
We are always looking for new discoveries; whether it is about a person, a theme on the website or a place that connects many people of African descent, this all helps the project to grow and helps us to produce interesting pieces for everyone to enjoy.
East Yorkshire Research and our Forthcoming Beverley Treasure House Exhibition
Last week we were contacted through our website and were given the name of another Black soldier who joined the East Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War. This has not only provided us with potentially another story but also adds to our understanding that the East Yorkshire Regiment may have been more diverse than previously thought. This is particularly important considering that next year is the centenary of the end of the First World War and everybody who fought deserves to be remembered. However, this gentleman’s story could be particularly useful for our forthcoming Beverley Treasure House exhibition in May as he was predominantly based in East Yorkshire. We hope to include new stories in our May exhibition with a focus on those people who have lived, worked or visited East Yorkshire. We are currently researching performers of African descent seen at coastal resorts such as Bridlington, Scarborough, Filey, etc. If you remember hearing about or going to see an event, which included Black men and women we would welcome any details so please click here to contact us.
Submitting Information to the Project
Please click here to submit information or to contact us if you think you can help. We would also be grateful if you would share your knowledge or look through your old photograph collections or any memorabilia you may have. You may be surprised by what you find! Also, don’t forget if you are particularly interested in a story, please revisit the page as you never know what you might have missed.
Thanks to Mike Covell, John Ellis, Deborah Crawford and Jeff Green for getting in touch.
Below are two paintings believed to be by the popular local artist John Ward (1798–1849) who was one of the leading marine and ship painters during the early nineteenth century. Although, they appear to be very similar there is one important difference, can you work out what it is?
Both paintings are set at the mouth of the River Hull and Humber shipping lane at sunrise with a view of steam and sailing ships in the background. Also featured in the paintings are lightermen rowing their small boats out into the river and two men in the midground looking out across the water, in what appears to be deep discussion. However, in the foreground of the picture there is a subtle but important difference. In the first painting, one man in red (possibly a dock worker), is seated on a rock or large piece of wood and appears to be smoking a long pipe. However, in the second painting this man is joined by an acquaintance who is seated to his left. The other gentleman is Black. He is wearing a yellow hat and light-coloured jacket with blue trousers and black shoes. He is also probably a dockworker and is smoking the same long pipe. Thus, while the first image shows an idyllic traditional and popular view of Hull’s maritime landscape in the early nineteenth century, the second painting represents a more faithful and accurate portrayal of actual Black presence within the port.
Undoubtedly, the paintings raise more questions than answers. It is believed that the second picture with the inclusion of the Black sailor was painted around 1800. If this is the case, then it could not have been painted by Ward since he would have only been two years old at the time. Given the scenery and artistic style of the work, it is possible that this early date is incorrect and that, in fact, Ward produced this work much later on. The first painting without the Black sailor has been dated to around 1835 and is believed to be by Ward. This begs the question whether Ward made a copy of the older picture (perhaps by an unknown artist) and then deliberately removed the Black figure? Or did he make a copy of his own painting and add the man into the scene later on? And if so why remove or add a Black dockworker? Additional historical research and pictorial analysis would need to be done in order for these questions to be more fully answered. Nonetheless, the paintings and their story remain intriguing.
With thanks to Dr Nicholas Evans for bringing this to our attention. If you think you have any further information about either of these painting, please do contact us here.
Dr Lauren Darwin