About the Project

Facing the Past is a city-wide programme of creative activity throughout 2023 and a permanent digital resource. Facing the Past is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to bring greater awareness to Lancaster’s historic involvement in trans-Atlantic slavery and the legacies of this today. It includes: an interactive digital map (which can be accessed on this site); a public performance event; a public memorial consultation with young people and newly commissioned research. 

Through these different media, we hope to broaden existing narratives by focusing on the voices of those people who were enslaved. The erasure of their history has continued to dehumanise them, and black people continue to suffer racism that is rooted in the trading of human lives. It is this racism that has allowed systems of consumerism, without consideration for the global inequalities they maintain, to go largely unquestioned. 

Facing the Past is a grassroots project that facilitates collaboration between multiple partners across the city including UCLan, Lancaster Priory, Lancaster City Council museum service, and Lancaster & Morecambe Primary Headteachers’ cluster. It also brings together a team of freelance artists, heritage professionals and educators to tell the full story of Lancaster’s history. The Facing the Past Digital Map is both a record of the history and this subsequent work to ensure that it is permanently documented.

Despite the work of these individuals and organisations, city-wide public acknowledgement of Lancaster’s involvement in slavery has yet to be achieved. It is through this work that the Facing the Past project has emerged. The title of this project is based on a presentation given by Professor Imogen Tyler to Lancaster City Council on Lancaster's black history. This project could not have happened without the work of all these individuals and organisations to uncover the city's past.