Slave Trade Triangle Liverpool

This is a text only version of our interactive Liverpool Slave Trade page

By 1700, Liverpool was a growing port and over the next 100 years it was transformed into the most important shipping and trade centre in the world.

Since the late 1600s Liverpool had started importing the newly discovered tobacco back from America. More and more shipping merchants move to Liverpool to seek their fortune.

In 1715 the world’s first ‘gated dock’ a lockable area was built. It kept ships afloat after the tide had gone out and allowed goods to be loaded and unloaded easier.

Around the same time a canal is created to link Liverpool and Manchester, and a ‘turnpike’ (toll) road created between Liverpool, Prescot and Warrington. (Now the A57 road eastwards out of the city – London Road, Kensington, East Prescot Road, Liverpool Road)

All the pieces were now in place to allow the whole of Northern England to start trading with the newly discovered America. The ‘Slave Trade Triangle Liverpool’ is about to begin.

How the Slave Trade Triangle Liverpool worked:

Journey 1:
Liverpool to West Africa – Ships carried goods from Northern England out to Africa. Cotton material from Manchester, jewellery from Lancashire, knives and steel from Sheffield and Pottery from Stoke. These goods where then sold to African Chiefs in exchange for captured Africans.

Note that the slave trade in Africa had been long practiced by Muslim Slave Traders for 100s of years and they took far more people from Africa over a much longer period than any European traders did.

Journey 2:
West Africa to America – The enslaved Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and North and South America to work as unpaid slaves. The journey usually took six to eight weeks. Conditions on-board were terrible and many died.

Journey 3:
America to Liverpool – Before returning back to Liverpool, the traders stocked up with new and exciting things like sugar, coffee, cocoa, raw cotton and tobacco to bring back to home. No actual Slaves were ever bought or sold in Liverpool.

Liverpool played a huge part in the Slave Trade Triangle, but it did not play as big a part in Liverpool’s own history. It is thought only 10-30% of the ships leaving Liverpool during the period were actually destined for Africa.

By the end of the 1700s Liverpool lead the way to abolish the African slave trade. It took the courage of Liverpool politician William Roscoe to stand up and call for an end to British ships involvement with it.

Additional Links about the Transatlantic / Liverpool Slave Trade Triangle:

Liverpool – Warrington Turnpike Trade Route Map
Understanding the Liverpool Slave Trade
Liverpool Cotton Trade
General facts about slavery
The transatlantic slave trade
Liverpool Slave Trade Abolition
Slave Trade Triangle Liverpool
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