Issue date: 31 January 2003

ISSUE DATE: 31/01/03

Launch at the Institute of Historical Research at the
University of London, 30 January

The Bristol Slave Trade will be brought to life for schoolchildren with the launch of a teaching website developed by researchers at the Regional History Centre at the University of the West of England. The project is sponsored by the Victoria County History Project of the Institute of Historical Research of London University and is part of a larger project on Bristol’s History which is currently being considered for Heritage Lottery Funds. The web site builds on the Bristol Slavery Trail and includes teachers’ notes; lesson plans and a large range of hitherto unpublished documents.

Madge Dresser, Co-Director of the Regional History Centre has worked with UWE colleagues Dean Smart and Penelope Harnett and web designer Jacqui Eccles of the VCH Project to produce the web site. She said, “We have tried to make the learning experience attractive to pupils, without trivialising what is a sensitive and serious subject. Final Year students from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School provided an innovative new dimension to the site by dramatising actual historical documents featuring actual historical individuals including an Afro-Caribbean woman enslaved in Bristol, an anti slavery African activist, a merchant and a Bristol sailor.

“The students appear as ‘talking heads’ along the trail to help breath life into the history and offer up an insight into how slavery impacted on so many lives in 18th Century Bristol.”

The Bristol Slavery Trail has been in existence in leaflet form for nearly five years. The idea for the web site came about because the researchers thought additional teaching material would be of value to school children who might take part in the walk and follow this through in the classroom. Penelope Harnett said, “We know that children get more out of learning experiences if the teaching material is presented in an interesting way. Also the project combines history and IT giving children good practice at finding out information using technology.”

The website includes letters from sailors working on the slave ships who died enroute and lesson plans have been devised around these letters. There is also material on Bristol and the legacy of the slave trade including a debate around the Colston statue and Pero’s Bridge. The website can be viewed at

The site also includes material gathered for Bristol City Museum’s 1999 Exhibition on ‘Bristol and the Atlantic Slave Trade’ as well as unpublished new material based on original research. Many of the images used in the website are courtesy of Bristol Museum who have liaised closely with UWE’s Regional History Centre over the past five years.

The CD ROM launch will take place in London on 30 January at the Institute of Historical Research at Senate House, University of London. The website can be accessed at


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