Schoolchildren appeal for statue of abolitionist in Ipswich

Stratford St Mary Primary School statue appeal

Stratford St Mary Primary School pupils wrote to MP James Cartlidge with the suggestion - Credit: Stratford St Mary Primary School

A group of conscientious schoolchildren have launched a campaign to commemorate former Suffolk resident Thomas Clarkson's fight to end slavery.

Classmates at Stratford St Mary Primary School came up with the proposal after learning about the transatlantic slave trade.

Stratford St Mary Primary School statue appeal

Stratford St Mary Primary School pupils each sewed a patchwork square, which included a symbol from freedom quilts hung outside of safe houses along the Underground Railroad - Credit: Stratford St Mary Primary School

During a debate on Bristol's controversial statue of slave trader Edward Colston, one pupil asked why prominent abolitionist Thomas Clarkson had not been given his own memorial in Ipswich.

In 1816, nine years after the slave trade was finally abolished in the British Empire, Clarkson retired to Playford Hall, where he died on September 26, 1846.

Portrait of Thomas Clarkson, seated in his study Photo: Kingston Upon Hull City Museums.

Portrait of Thomas Clarkson, seated in his study - Credit: Archant

Teacher Julie Rivers suggested the pupils share the idea in a letter to local MP James Cartlidge, who not only responded, but agreed to put the proposal to Ipswich Borough Council and asked to visit the school later this week. 

The Thomas Clarkson Memorial in Playford Church Picture: Lucy Taylor

The Thomas Clarkson Memorial at Playford church

Pupil Anje Bodenstein said: "I've learnt so much about how horrific the Transatlantic slave trade really was.

"I've learnt about Africa and the horrors that took place during this time.

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"Thomas Clarkson helped end that 'bloodbath' of an era and even though it's not completely gone, he helped us step forward towards a better and more peaceful society."

Stratford St Mary Primary School statue appeal

Stratford St Mary Primary School pupils with anti-modern day slavery posters - Credit: Stratford St Mary Primary School

Anna Owen added: "Thomas Clarkson was a key figure in helping abolish the transatlantic slave trade yet William Wilberforce was the one who took the glory.

"Clarkson spent 61 years of his life fighting for the enslaved Africans and their freedom, and because he was living in Ipswich when the transatlantic slave trade was abolished, and is also buried there, I feel we should celebrate his achievements by erecting a statue in his honour."

Thomas Clarkson remembered in Playford Church Picture: Lucy Taylor

Thomas Clarkson is buried at St Mary's Church in Playford

Married in Bury St Edmunds and buried at St Mary's Church, Playford, Clarkson has a road dedicated in his name - Clarkson Street.

It adjoins others named after abolitionists – Benezet Street, Wilberforce Street and Granville Street.

Clarkson Street is named after the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson Picture: SIMON PARKER

Clarkson Street is named after the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson

He was also among the 'Ipswich Pioneers' in one of 15 stories put forward for inclusion on the arches at the new Cornhill in 2018.

Councillor Carole Jones, portfolio holder for planning and museums at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “I'm interested to hear that schoolchildren have suggested a statue in Ipswich of the local campaigner for the abolition of slavery, Thomas Clarkson.

"It’s great that our children are thinking about such important issues and are also learning how Ipswich has many times played a part in world history.“

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