Eastside Community Heritage worked with young people from West Ham and Stratford to explore the significance of the bicentenary within the context of their own history in London and in British history more widely. The Road to Freedom project was devised by the young people themselves, who gathered information from the Museum of London Docklands, the National Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Their research led to a documentary-drama and an exhibition which toured venues in Newham, accompanied by discussion sessions led by the participants.
London Borough of Newham Council led “The Wickedest of Cargoes…”, an exhibition at Stratford Town Hall, which used local museum and archive collections to explore the history of the slave trade and abolition. It looked at the history of slavery through different societies and cultures, and especially the Barbary pirates who enslaved seamen and passengers from ships on the west coast of North Africa. The exhibition explored the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition from a local perspective, focusing on the large Quaker community in West Ham and, in particular, John Fothergill and Samuel Gurney. Newham has many residents from an African Caribbean background, who were consulted in the development of the exhibition. Addressing the legacies of slavery, the exhibition looked at the rising Black population of the borough through history and the importance of the Coloured Men’s Institute in Canning Town, set up as a place where Black families could meet.