The shipping company of the English “prison ship” made their fortune from slavery

The English city of Liverpool is now internationally known for the Beatles. The Cavern Club, where they debuted on stage, is a must for the millions of tourists who visit the band’s birthplace each year. But there is another, lesser-known Liverpool. Because the history of the metropolis on the Mersey estuary is inextricably linked to it the slave trade.

Between 1695 and 1807 they left the port 5,300 ships on the “triangle voyage” Across the Atlantic. The ships left Liverpool laden with British-made goods and headed for West Africa, where the cargo was bartered for slaves. These were then brought to America to be sold to the British, Spanish and French colonies. They were forced to work on plantations in inhumane conditions, cultivating and picking products such as sugar, coffee, cocoa and cotton, which were then shipped back to England by ship, where they were sold as luxury goods or raw materials for industry. This is how many Britons made great fortunes. underneath, John Bibby.

The son of English farmers, the fourth of five children, he began with a few partners in the steel industry and shipping. With his marriage in 1805, however, he became professionally independent thanks to his wife’s dowry. Maria Margarete. In the same year, like many others, he invested in the slave trade. It is estimated that every eighth family in the port city was dependent on the slave trade. However, it is Bibby’s name that is now making headlines in the press because the family business he founded over 200 years ago bibby marine, She is the owner of the Bibby Stockholm, the controversial ship hired by the British government to house irregularly arrived asylum seekers as part of its controversial immigration policy.

This week the first immigrants started arriving on the big three-story ship 222 cabins in the port of Portland (England). The executive describes it as “simple and functional accommodation” and assures that it will be cheaper than the hotels currently housing around 51,000 asylum seekers, at a cost to taxpayers about 6 million pounds a day. But the NGOs assure that it is a “floating prison” and denounce that it is cruel and inhumane to “detain people who have had traumatic experiences at sea”.

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Just four days after the migrants arrived on the barge, they had to be evacuated a legionella outbreak in water. The migrants were removed from the structure as a precaution and no cases of illness have been recorded so far. The executive ordered a routine test of the water supply on July 25, but the results didn’t arrive until August 7, when migrants began embarking.

The Bibbys retain control of the shipping company to this day. Sir Michael Bibby, sixth generation descendant of the founder, is the current President of an empire of £800m, active in 16 countries and with 4,000 direct employees. The company’s website states: “History has taught us that solid values ​​and a willingness to learn, innovate and adapt ensure our future in an ever-changing business environment.”

But as the past associated with the slave trade comes to light, the controversy surrounding the “floating prison” has only increased. More than fifty NGOs, including the Refugee Council, Asylum Matters and Refugee Action, have written an open letter to the company, urging it to withdraw from the government contract. “Your company’s historical association with the slave trade makes it all the more important that you think carefully about whether a treaty that results in the effective incarceration of people fleeing war and persecution is where they want to be positioned in 2023 ‘ he emphasizes.

Westminster outlawed the sale of slaves in March 1807, but slavery remained active in the British colonies until 1838. According to historical records, such as those in the National Museum of Liverpool, the Bibby Patriarch invested in at least three ships transporting black slaves. In 1805 the ‘Harmony’ left Liverpool on a voyage carrying 250 prisoners bought from West Africa and St Helena to Cumingsberg.

The successful businessman rose to prominence in Liverpool, which is why his mysterious death in 1840 was the cause “A remarkable sensation”, according to the press at the time. After a board meeting at the Royal Bank of Liverpool, Bibby took a cab home with a friend. The car stopped 400 meters from the gate. But I never arrive. The next morning, a farmer found the body in a pond. The hat had been crushed on his head, which showed a large bruise on the left side.

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