The truth behind the slave trade

January 30 2014

A BRISTOL celebrity is launching a book that reveals unknown truths behind Bristol's slave trade.

A BRISTOL celebrity is launching a book that reveals unknown truths behind Bristol's slave trade. 

Peter Martin - better knows as Pirate Pete - has teamed up with psychiatrist, Dr Isioma Nwokolo, to produce Bristol Slavers.

Guests at the event on February 20 at the Plantation – a Caribbean bar and restaurant on Cheltenham Road – will be given the opportunity to look at the evidence gathered and to hear more about the journey undertaken to write the book.

The publication, which unveils the West Country's involvement in the trade, is a result of Peter's 12-year fact-finding mission around the world.

The 72-year-old, who is a former Fairfield School pupil, said: "The difference between this book and others written on the subject is that I have solid evidence. This isn’t hearsay or opinion – I’m simply laying out the facts.

"I know how much of a controversial subject this is. There’s a lot of talk in Bristol about the [slave trade] but it’s time we talked about the truth."

Bristol Slavers focuses on all the estates in the South West which have connections to the slave trade.

Peter added: "We cover all the famous Bristol families – the Colstons, Smyths, Nelsons, Wills, Goldneys, Frys and Berkeleys, to name a few.

"I don’t take no for an answer, so I’ve been into unexplored houses for slavery artefacts – people have really bared their souls to me."

Originally from Nigeria but now living in Dorset, Isioma found - through involvement in the book - she is from a lineage of African rulers.

Peter added: "I originally brought Isioma on board to help portray an African perspective but since we’ve been working together, she has unbelievable connections to what went on.”

As a direct descendant of the African King who ruled when the Bristol slavers were trading, Isioma became interested in the human aspects of slavery and what it meant to the people involved.

She said: "As a practising psychiatrist I am interested in how slavery affected people and the mental trauma caused. While Peter is the fact man, I explore the human side.

"Our journey to write the book has been exciting and interesting but it’s also been a real eye opener. We hope the discoveries will improve education on an important part of our history and also generate interest in the cities and towns where the artefacts we discuss were found."

Famous for his pirate walks, Peter gives tours to over 10,000 tourist, locals and school children every year.

His motivation to produce Bristol Slavers came after publishing a book called Swashbuckling Tales of the West Country in 2009.

"It was such an overwhelming success, with teachers using it to teach their classes about pirates and Bristol’s history, I decided to work on another book," he said. "I am hoping the new book will be a great resource for teachers covering the slave trade, as well as being [a book] of general interest."

Peter is looking to launch a website next year which will provide a platform for people to interact and share information about their family history.

Tickets to the launch event are £10 when booked in advance, or £15 on the door. The cost includes food, drinks and a reggae after-party.

Signed copies of Bristol Slavers will also be available to purchase at the event for £10. Organisers are urging those interested to buy tickets soon, as there are 200 available.

To purchase a ticket, email: or contact the Plantation: 0117 9077932 or 07747623788. For more information about Pirate Pete, visit: