Joseph Sturge of Broad Street: his family business helped abolish slavery

To any passers-by, 264 and 265 Broad Street are simply a bar with a curry house upstairs. But the history behind these bricks and mortar helped abolish slavery. Westside business leader MIKE OLLEY reports.

It’s amazing what you find in Westside. Look at the building that today houses O Bar and, above, Barajee Restaurant.

Would you believe this building is inextricably linked to the organisation Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest international human rights body? Indeed, it’s also a building that is key to the abolition of slavery.

↑ Watch and listen to this Olley’s Oracle vlog above ↑

That was the home of the family business in the 1830s of Joseph and Charles Sturge. The business known as the Merchant Stores operated from here.

In Joseph Sturge’s time, the Merchant Stores was largely agricultural supplies and grain sales. The shop’s position on the canal allowed grain sales and purchases off and onto barges, a big plus. 

Charles Sturge ran the massively successful business whilst Joseph galivanted around the world doing no end of good. Joseph Sturge was key to the abolition of slavery and did so many other things to right horrific wrongs.

Before the abolition of slavery, he purchased land around the Caribbean. All with money earned from the Broad Street business. He operated this land as plantations with ‘freed’ labour, and operated it profitably, this proving the barbaric nature of slave labour was not required.

So, we like Joseph Sturge. We are very proud that he had his family business right here in Westside on Broad Street. We are delighted that one of our businesses fuelled the solution to probably one of the globe’s biggest wrongs in the last one thousand years.

Image: © National Portrait Gallery, London.

ENDS

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