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New guided tour to delve deep into history of black people in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 11:47 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:53 05 October 2020

Historian Paul Dickson is launching a walking tour celebrating Norwich's black history. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Historian Paul Dickson is launching a walking tour celebrating Norwich's black history. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

A walking tour delving deep into the history of black people in Norwich is launching this month as part of celebrations of Black History Month.

William Darby, better known as Pablo Fanque. Picture: Archant libraryWilliam Darby, better known as Pablo Fanque. Picture: Archant library

Local historian Paul Dickson has been holding guided tours around the city for six years, with existing themes including Kett’s Rebellion, the city’s pubs and the Boardman family.

His latest tour, which launches on Saturday, October 10, will explore some of the stories of black people who came to call the fine city home over the centuries - and the role Norwich played in wider black history.

The tour, which Mr Dickson has put together following discussions with Norwich Black History Month chairman Danny Keen, tells the stories of a number of prominent black people who lived in the city, as well as those whose actions have had impact on their lives.

Among the protagonists of the tour are Norwich-born Pablo Fanque, the first ever black circus proprietor, author Ukasaw Gronnisaw, who spent time living in Norwich and two men called Charley and Cotton - who worked in Norwich and whose portraits now hang in Tasmania.

Pablo Fanque blue plaque.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPablo Fanque blue plaque. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

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As well as celebrating black historical figures, the tour also tells the stories of people in Norwich who played pivotal roles in the abolition of slavery, including author Amelia Opie and politician Thomas Fowell Buxton.

Mr Dickson said: “A tour about Norwich’s black history is something that I have been considering for quite some time, so when Danny [Keen] contacted me and suggested we do it this year I was keen to get on board.

“In a way, the lockdown really helped with it, as it gave me plenty of time to research and piece it together.”

Pic for Eastern Daily Press Norfolk Magazine
Pic for Hidden Jem feature - Statue of Amelia Opie, above a shop on Opie Street, in Norwich.
Pic by Keiron Tovell
EDP Pics © 2004 Tel. (01603) 772434
Pic for EDP Norfolk MagazinePic for Eastern Daily Press Norfolk Magazine Pic for Hidden Jem feature - Statue of Amelia Opie, above a shop on Opie Street, in Norwich. Pic by Keiron Tovell EDP Pics © 2004 Tel. (01603) 772434 Pic for EDP Norfolk Magazine

The tours have already been well-subscribed, with several of the dates already fully booked - though the coronavirus has meant Mr Dickson is operating them at 50pc capacity, just 10 people at a time.

He added: “Through researching I have learned that Norwich really had a central role in the abolition of slavery and that it has a continuing black history dating back to the 17th century. I hope people come away from the tour understanding just how important the city’s black history is.”

Further details of the tours, which cause £7 per person, can be found at pauldicksontours.co.uk


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