Century slave who became Nottingham’s first black entrepreneur will have a tram
named in his honour.
Africanus tram will be unveiled at a special ceremony just before this year’s
Caribbean Carnival begins at the Forest Recreation Ground on 22 August.
Africanus was brought to England in slavery aged three, but ended his life as a
wealthy businessman and a free man.
Sierra Leone, West Africa in 1763, he founded what was probably the first
employment agency in Nottingham.
the latest in an honourable line of Nottingham notables who have had trams
named after them, including legendary characters and local heroes such as Robin
Hood, Nurse of the Year Kim Helm, nun and health worker Mary Potter, boxing
champion Carl Froch and more recently playwright Stephen Lowe.
Africanus died in 1834 aged 71, but it was not until the late 20th Century that
interest in his life – and the contribution he made - really took
The suggestion to name a tram after him came from the public.
Marketing Manager, Jamie Swift, commented: "George is obviously very
well-known now as his name was put forward on numerous occasions.
is real rags to riches, which inspires people. It’s fitting that we celebrate
the achievements of this man, who did so well in his time.”
historian Norma Gregory, who will unveil the tram name, spent many years
uncovering the Africanus story and led a campaign to erect a Blue Plaque on his
former home in 2014.
"I believe that George would be proud of this honour and his life story is
a lesson many can learn from.
Africanus had a vision to succeed and to contribute to society. He made himself
part of the community of Nottingham and through his resilience, ambition and
desire to improve his life and those around him created his own employment
he arrived in Britain, he was given as a “present” to wealthy businessman
Benjamin Molineux, who lived in Wolverhampton. After an apprenticeship as a
brass founder, George Africanus moved to Nottingham.
show he married local girl Esther Shaw in Nottingham in 1788 and set up a home
and business on Victoria Street in the city centre.
By the time
of his death, he had become a prominent businessman. He made his fortune running
his own employment agency called the Register Office for Servants in the
building which is now part of the Major Oak public house.
also involved with the Watch and Ward group – a type of early police force
which was established to protect against rioting gangs of Luddites.
in the churchyard of St Mary's in the Lace Market, was uncovered in 2003. A
plaque was later unveiled at the churchyard and in 2007, his grave was re-laid
to give him a fitting and lasting memorial.
Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing commented:
"George Africanus’ story is one of hope and triumph. His impact is rightly
commemorated in the places he lived, worked and is buried.
tram in his honour further recognises the active and important contribution he
made in our city."