26 November, 2020

Taking a leisurely shower this morning I was surprised to hear Melvyn Bragg discussing a ship called the ZONG which achieved notoriety for throwing many of its cargo of slaves overboard whilst still alive.  The connection to Fulham and Hammersmith is that Granville Sharp became heavily involved in trying to get the Master and Crew tried for murder rather than insurance fraud. An horrific story but well worth listening to, from BBC Radio 4.

At the opposite end of the day I am reading Peter Ackroyd’s Dominion his fifth volume of The History of England.  It covers the end of Regency until Victoria’s death. He races through this period but nevertheless it is a very dense read.  There are lots of quotes from the period and he exercises his wit on the main characters.  He also seems to have a desire to revive historic and archaic words that tease the mind. He exposes the dreadful state of government and politics and the grudging moves towards democracy whilst in the midst of famine, wars and engineering transformation.  I am finding this really helpful as this period was not covered at school (science ‘O’ levels) and of course this is just the period when our borough was itself in transition from the semi-rural and estates to the rapid development of railways and terraced housing.  It forms a very useful backdrop to our local history. (Dominion by Peter Ackroyd  ISBN 9781509881321)

As a footnote news is breaking of Foster & Partners proposal to put a double decker temporary roadway onto Hammersmith Bridge.  Bazelgette, one hopes, would have been delighted!  Do note that an exciting revamped reprint of our Hammersmith_Bridge_ publication will be available before Christmas.



25 November, 2013


Granville Sharp Tomb

Tomb of Granville Sharp

Despite a wet evening, Jane Bowden-Dan’s illustrated talk drew an audience of about 20 members and visitors to St Clements Church Hall. First, Jane referred to two famous Fulham residents who fought for the abolition of the British Transatlantic Slave Trade – Granville Sharp (1735-1813) who lodged with his sister-in-law at Fulham House (since demolished), and Beilby Porteus (1731-1809), who, as Bishop of London, lived at Fulham Palace.

Then, using business letters from the Lascelles sugar merchants, describing the admission of ‘Negro Sampson’- from St Kitts – to Guy’s Hospital in 1752 under surgeon, Mr Samuel Sharpe, we found three intriguing early links between the Hospital and the West Indies. These were: the original financing of the voluntary Hospital (opened in 1726); sons of West Indian planters as physicians and surgeons; and the treatment of Black people in eighteenth-century London hospitals. Was it self-interest or humanitarian concern that led to the ‘Negro Sampson’ receiving care arranged by the leading surgeon, Mr Samuel Sharpe?

Questions suggested that the Society might investigate how polymath Sir William Cheselden (1688-1752) – surgical mentor to Mr Samuel Sharpe – was involved in the design and construction of the old Fulham Bridge. Also we must not forget that the Act of 1807 only abolished the Slave Trade. Full Emancipation in the Caribbean of nearly a million Africans in British colonies was only won in 1838. The Windrush Foundation is currently presenting an excellent free exhibition (until 21 December 2013) at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, marking the 175th anniversary of the 1838 Emancipation.