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.



19 August, 2020

As the rules relax we are all venturing out a little, perhaps visits to family or favourite places.  Yesterday a trip to test how busy the transport system was and how a large gallery was coping with the rules proved to be a pleasant surprise.  A couple of buses, mainly the 11; which were only allowed to carry 30 passengers and thus we were very well spaced, took us to Trafalgar Square.  Again this tourist hot spot was hardly busy.  A free timed slot at the National Gallery gave us access to one of three routes through the standing exhibitions.  We chose route C for its Turners but were delighted to see them juxtaposed with Constables and many others – largely landscapes.  West London can claim Turner as one of its own and some members may have visited his home at Twickenham now newly restored and re-opened under COVID restrictions but with a small exhibition of his oil sketches see details.  It was a great visit but the first surprise was seeing Johan Zoffany’s painting of “The Sharp Family” on their barge Apollo at Fulham. Photography was allowed but this picture is on loan from a private collection so a rare treat that gives a feel for the area and the times. Granville Sharp was a respected resident of Fulham who helped found the colony of Sierra Leone and used his position to campaign for the abolition of slavery.  The second surprise was to see a Canaletto of the Rotunda at Ranelagh Gardens. Noticing the Ranelagh connection and delved a little deeper as had never heard of the Rotunda, which was demolished in 1805.

So well worth a visit to the National and to Turner’s House.  We even managed a snack lunch at the National’s cafe.

Talking of re-opening the London Metropolitan Archive will re-open with restrictions from 7 September details on their website. Likewise the V&A is open and the British Museum is re-opening too. So do venture forth and take in some more History and perhaps lunch. Let us all know if you find any historical gems.


For those wishing to find out more about Granville Sharp there is this entry on Historic England’s website and of course Wikipedia.

See Vernon Burgess’ comment below.


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.