Ingestre Hall, the abolition of slavery and Alton Towers
(Posted 14th Nov 2015)
Today sees the latest in a series of workshops held in different part of the country about the legacies of British colonial slave-ownership. The events have arisen out of two research projects based at University College London which have been tracing the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain.
In 1833, when slavery in the British colonies was abolished, Parliament sanctioned the doling out of truly vast amounts of cash to compensate former slave-owners for their ‘loss’. Among the beneficiaries of these state handouts to the already wealthy was Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, the 2nd Earl of Talbot of Ingestre Hall. In today’s values he received an estimated £3.4 million for the 543 slaves he had owned. As I suggest in my book, this sort of windfall would have come in handy when the family later added Alton Towers to their portfolio. The book also shows how, nationally, the reinvestment of compensation money paid to the former slave owners helped in no small way to fund the boom in railway construction that changed the face of Britain in the 1830s and ’40s.