Gillows of Lancaster, later known as Waring and Gillows, were furniture manufacturers. The firm started in the early 1700’s and finally closed in 1962 and for over 250 years they created furniture of outstanding quality, examples of which are still around today.
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.
Sign language was not a formalised discreet language and few ordinary people were educated. How would a Deaf person have communicated with their family? After a trip to Preston archives, finding little documented evidence for Deaf culture it prompted me to ‘imagine’ this life.
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.
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.
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