Online Talk: Atlantic Slavery Hidden In Plain Sight In A Victorian City

Wednesday 29th September 2021 | 7.30pm BST | via Zoom

Thomas Sulman’s Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow (1864) is perhaps the most famous of all such views of British cities. The splendid, panoramic detail underlines Victorian Glasgow remained both commercial and industrial city: steam and sail ships sit on the Clyde at the Broomielaw, whilst the smog from new chemical industries compelled the affluent ranks to decant from the old ‘Merchant City’ to newer residences in the leafy west end.

However, one of the major forces in Glasgow and Scotland’s shift from commerce to industry – transatlantic slavery – remains hidden in plain sight. Sulman’s Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow was completed in 1864, thirty years after chattel slavery was abolished in the British West Indies, and one year before slavery was abolished in the United States of America. Yet, the transformation of the Victorian city – landed estates, urban property, textiles, railways – was shaped by elite’s wealthy from Atlantic slavery, and the panoramic detail reveals such legacies.

This talk, therefore, examines Sulman’s Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow in a new way: moving from east to west, assessing the importance of Atlantic slavery to the urban, commercial and industrial development of Victorian Glasgow.

Dr Stephen Mullen holds a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow, which examined Glasgow-West India merchants, planters and sojourners, 1776-1846. He is currently employed as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the same institution. Stephen has published a number of general and academic articles on Scotland’s connections with Caribbean slavery.

Free, booking required, donations welcome. 


Please note: Payment is taken via PayPal but you do not need to have a PayPal account to pay online. 

We are using Zoom to broadcast our live talks. You can join these events as a participant without creating a Zoom account. You do not need to have a webcam or a microphone to join the event as a participant.

All events are subtitled. We aim to make our events as accessible as possible but if you feel that you might need some additional help, please let us know when you book your ticket or get in touch in advance. We’re open to feedback and would welcome your ideas on how we can improve in this area.

You will receive instructions on joining the event by email. If you haven’t received anything by midday on the day of the event, please check your spam folder and then contact us.

You might also be interested in…

Enjoy Family Fun with our Kids Trails!

Download our Kid’s Heritage Trails!

Online Talk: 19th Century Retail and the Rise of the Department Store

Wednesday 8th December 2021 | 7.30pm GMT | via Zoom

Focusing on architecture, window displays, and internal design, this talk will examine how Glasgow department stores, like their Parisian counterparts, became spaces not just of spectacle, but also of manipulation and disorientation.

The Map

“I feel like a bird soaring over the city when I gaze upon Sulman’s map, every nook and cranny with every detail so exact.

I can see where I came from and where I’m at.”

Become a Friend of Glasgow City Heritage Trust

Each year, our events help over 2000 people to understand and appreciate Glasgow's irreplaceable built heritage. Can you help us to reach more people?

We are hugely grateful for the support of our Friends whose subscriptions help cover the costs of these events, thereby ensuring accessible pricing for everyone in Glasgow in these challenging times.

The easiest way to support the Trust’s work is to join our Friends scheme. Our tiered loyalty scheme means you can choose the level that’s right for you.