York Castle Museum

Previous Exhibition: Unfair Trade

Please note this exhibition has now closed.

25 March 2007 – 25 March 2008

Our Unfair Trade exhibition marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade by exploring the impact slavery had on everyday life. It looked at how ordinary people both helped the trade flourish and campaigned for its abolition, using historic material from York and Yorkshire.

Many people played their part in the slave trade simply by doing their daily shopping, but other residents prospered through trade and commerce, especially in such commodities as coffee, sugar and cocoa. At the same time York people helped fight for the abolition of slavery with Quakers in the city strongly supporting William Wilberforce’s campaign.

Unfair Trade also questioned whether we have really stopped exploitation today. Visitors are asked to consider where the goods they buy come from, who produced them and under what conditions.

The exhibition is spread around the museum’s recreated rooms, galleries and Victorian Street, highlighting how slavery affected different periods in history and different areas of commerce.

Slave Ship Event

Volunteers from across the area helped us to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade on 25 March 2007 with a special event.

They were asked to lie down on the outline of a slave ship on the Eye of York outside the museum to remember the suffering of the people who made horrific journeys from Africa to the Caribbean.

A projection combining images and sounds from the day, recorded by children from Westfield Primary School, York, was added to the exhibition.