Kevin Dalton Johnson’s Captured Africans is a memorial to enslaved Africans transported on ships originating out of Lancaster as part of the Transatlantic slave trade. It stands on St George’s Quay in Lancaster and was unveiled in 2005.
The Transatlantic slave trade lasted upwards of 300 years. It was a brutal system by which millions of African men, women and children were captured from their homelands, bought and sold as property – a status inherited by their children – and used to produce sugar, cotton and other raw materials for huge profit in the European and North American markets. British involvement in the slave trade was banned in 1807, and slavery itself eventually abolished in Britain and its empire in 1833. Its legacy can still be felt in Britain and the wider world today.
Lancaster developed into a significant British slave port. In the 1700s around 200 slave ships sailed out of Lancaster bound for Africa. Between 1750 and 1790 alone, Lancaster merchants were responsible for the forced transportation of around 29,000 African men, women and children across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.
The sculpture reflects a cross-section of a slave ship sailing on a mosaic Atlantic Ocean:
• The mosaic illustrates the triangular trade route between Europe, Africa and the Americas
• A series of figures in different poses represent the Africans who were transported across the Atlantic
• Six perspex plinths represent the layers of decks in the hold of the ship where the captured African people were carried in iron shackles, packed like cargo
• The bottom plinth is labelled Slaves and is embedded with the famous image of the slave ship Brooks, used by the abolition movement to raise awareness of this cruelty
• The next four plinths are labelled with commodities produced by enslaved Africans: Sugar, Mahogany, Rum, Cotton
• The top plinth is labelled Wealth and is embedded with coins, reflecting the enormous profits generated by the slave trade
• The stainless-steel column lists many of the ships that sailed from Lancaster and the number of slaves they captured and transported.
The memorial was proposed by Dr Alan Rice at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and commissioned as part of the Slave Trade Art Memorial project (STAMP). It was created by artist Kevin Dalton-Johnson with support from mosaic artist Ann McArdle, and local young people who made the iron figures. It is designed to encourage people to pause and reflect on the human cost of transatlantic slavery and its legacies.
See more views of the different parts of the sculpture and find out more:
Find out more about the artist and his work here: www.kevindaltonjohnson.com
Sources & acknowledgements
This object description and its related educational resources were researched and written by our team of historians and education specialists. For further information see the item’s home museum, gallery or archive, listed above.