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The life and works of Blue Coat School founder Bryan Blundell and his links to the transatlantic slave trade have been put under the microscope by a special research group of Year 12 students from the School History Society.

The History Society’s Bryan Blundell Research Group was set up as part of the wider review into the School’s founders and their links to the transatlantic slave trade, as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement and others to re-evaluate its impact on western European and US history.

Although Bryan Blundell, who opened Blue Coat in 1708, and his sons’ slave-trading activities were never a secret, the History group have unearthed original research long buried in the archives.

Dr Paul Wainwright, from the History Department and group leader, said: “The History Society continue their work researching the history of the school’s founding, and the connections between Bryan Blundell and the economy of the transatlantic slave trade.

“In spite of lockdown, the Year 12 students leading the project are accessing a range of primary and secondary resources to investigate a range of issues to place the available facts within the local and national context of the time. I am very proud of what the students have achieved as they are not merely replicating material already published by adults.

“This half term our student researchers have begun to participate in a series of online talks with external speakers who are sharing their expertise on the topic. We are now opening these talks to other interested members of the school community who want to find out more, including students from other year groups, and any members of staff who would like to attend.

“So far our students have heard from Bryan Biggs from the Bluecoat arts centre and University of Liverpool PhD student Michelle Girvan. Michelle’s research is directly focused on the origins of our school and its founders.”

Next term, we look forward to hearing from Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, based at Albert Dock, and from local historian Laurence Westgaph, an expert on Liverpool’s transatlantic slavery. Students from all year groups, as well as staff, will be able to attend these online events. 

Read more in school, Extra-curricular

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