Sunderland, Newcastle upon Tyne and other East coast ports were not directly involved in the trading of African people like Liverpool or Bristol. So what links did North East people have with the slave trade?
Records suggest that several local land owners owned or invested in sugar plantations in the Caribbean like the one in the picture.
The Sunderland based Hilton family was one of several local land owning families who owned or invested in sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Their property ranged from Hilton Castle, which stands close to the north bank of the River Wear, to sugar plantations in Jamaica. Descendants of the slaves who worked on their plantations may still carry the surname of 'Hylton', a popular name in Jamaica today.
Coal from local pits was shipped out to the Caribbean Islands. It heated the pans and boilers used in the conversion of raw sugar into pure sugar. North East merchants also transported slave-produced sugar, cotton, mahogany or rum to ports around the world, including to Newcastle.
The very successful Crowley ironworks at Swalwell and Winlaton, in Gateshead made shackles and neck collars for the slave trade. Amongst the many other iron goods produced by the Crowley forges were simple hoes and axes. They were shipped out to America and used by enslaved workers in the backbreaking work converting marshes into rice fields in South Carolina.
For more information, please visit www.twmuseums.org.uk/discoveringbewick/
For more information about North East links to the slave trade and abolition download the Remembering Slavery booklet