I have just been looking through a box of old photos and came across the one of you when you were about 5 years old. The one where you are sitting on an old canon outside Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. At the time you would not have known that this place is part of your heritage.
Cape Coast Castle was originally built by the Portuguese in the 15th century as a trading lodge to trade mainly in gold, which was plentiful in this part of Ghana. In 1653, it was taken over by Sweden’s conquest of Cape Coast, and a more permanent wooden fortress was built by the Swedish Africa Company for trade in gold and timber. Over time the fortress passed through the hands of the Danes and the Dutch before being conquered by the British in 1664, by which time the building had been reconstructed in stone.
Due to my half Caribbean background, and having lived in Ghana in West Africa for three years, during which, I visited a couple of the slave forts along its coastline, I had a personal interest in finding out more about Lancaster's involvement in slavery during the 18th century.
A contract: to paint a picture from Cable Street, Lancaster, and before the frontage of the German Sugar House.
I saw the invitation to become involved with Port Stories on the Regional Heritage e-newsletter and it suggested that participants would be creatively exploring the history of Lancaster. As a volunteer at Lancashire Archives and a member of the U3A it seemed like an attractive proposition.
This fictional story of an onboard slave rebellion is based around the known history of the Lancaster Captain Samuel Sandys and the Lancaster slave ship “The Mary” in 1761. After what appears to have been a very troubled voyage, and having survived one attempted uprising, Sandys and most of his crew ended up being killed in a slave insurrection off the coast of The Gambia. This fictional story is told from the perspective of one of the few survivors of the voyage, on his return to Lancaster many months later.
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