We’ve teamed up with the Black Cultural Archives to launch the first ever Black History Tube map, celebrating the rich and varied contribution Black people have made to London and the UK from Pre Tudor times to the present day. 🚇
The Black Cultural Archives is the home of Black British History, conceived in 1981 as a monument to hold space and collect, preserve and celebrate the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK to inspire and give strength to individuals, communities and society.
From the woman who both founded Britain’s first major Black newspaper 🗞️ and co-founding of Notting Hill Carnival, to London-based Georgian entrepreneur Cesar Picton, there’s plenty to be seen across all lines! Here are a few stand-outs we wanted to share. 👇
Bakerloo line – sports 🤎
Pablo Fanque, 1810 – 1871
Pablo Fanque, born William Darby, was a British equestrian performer 🐎, tightrope walker, acrobat 🤸♂️ and the first Black British circus owner! 🎪 His circus was popular in Victorian Britain for 30 years, a period that is regarded as the golden age of the circus. 🎠 Pablo Fanque was immortalised in The Beatles song Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite! on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. 🎶
Central line – Arts ❤️
Cecile Nobrega, 1919 – 2013
📍St. Pauls station
Cécile Nobrega, née Burgan was a Guyanese-born British teacher, poet 📝, playwright, composer 🎼 and community activist. She led a 15-year campaign to establish a monument in Stockwell Memorial Gardens, Bronze Woman, which is the first public monument to black women to be on permanent display in England. 😲
Circle line – Georgians 💛
George Bridgetower, 1779 – 1860
📍Ladbroke Grove station
George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower was a virtuoso violinist. 🎻 As a child George exhibited considerable talent, giving successful violin concerts in Paris, London and Bath. In 1791, the British Prince Regent, the future George IV took an interest in him and oversaw his musical education.
His playing impressed Beethoven so much he composed Sonata 9 for him – a sonata considered by today’s violinists as being the Mount Everest of violin sonatas.
Cesar Picton, 1755 – 1836
Cesar Picton began life enslaved
– and at the age of 6 was taken from his family and brought to England by an Army Officer and “presented” as a servant to Sir John Philipps, along with the gift of “a parakeet and a foreign duck”. 🦜 Despite this undignified beginning Picton used a legacy of £100 left to him by the Phillips family to set up in business as a coal merchant in Kingston. 🏭 Picton became a wealthy and respected man and is buried in All Saints Church, Kingston. 💰
District line – Firsts and Trailblazers 💚
Wiliam Brown, 1789 – unknown
📍Barons Court station
William Brown is the first known black, female individual to serve in the Royal Navy in the early nineteenth, by disguising herself as a man.. 🚢 There are conflicting interpretations about her service record on board the HMS Charlotte. An account published in The Times indicates that Brown joined the Royal Navy in her mid-teens and served aboard the Queen Charlotte as an elite sailor. Another record suggests Brown was discharged after six months on the ship for “being a female” and rated her as the lowest grade of adult crew member. Regardless of her record, she is regarded as the first biologically female person to serve in the Royal Navy. 😲
John Edmonstone, 1820-1890
📍 Upminster Bridge station
John Edmonstone began life enslaved on Scotsman Charles Edmonstone’s plantation in Guyana. Because John’s life began owned by Edmonstone his original surname is unknown. On the plantation he learned taxidermy and when he arrived in Scotland a free man he taught taxidermy to students at the University of Edinburgh, including Charles Darwin. Although not mentioned by name, Edmonstone’s accounts of tropical rain forests in South America are said to have encouraged Darwin to explore there. His teaching helped Darwin preserve specimens that were fundamental to his ideas on evolution.
Joe Clough, 1887-1977
📍Elm Park station
Joe Clough was born in the Caribbean and on arrival to the UK made his first home in London and later moved to Bedford. 🏡 In 1910 Joe became London Transport’s first black motorbus driver. He drove the number 11 which ran between Liverpool Street and Wormwood Scrubs prison. 🚌 During World War I he drove an ambulance 🚑 and in later years worked for the National Omnibus Company in Bedford.
Jubilee line – LGBT+ 🏳️🌈
Barbara Buford, 1944-2010
Barbara Yvonne Veronica Burford was a medical researcher, writer, and a lifelong diversity activist. 🩺 She was Professor of Developmental Cardiology at the Institute of Child Health and was in 2006 awarded a CBE
As a writer, she contributed to the first anthology written by Black British women and her collection of short stories, Threshing Floor, features on many school and college reading lists in the UK. In 1999, Burford was appointed Director of Equality for the Department for Health. The Barbara Burford Honour (Excellence in STEM) was founded in 2017 by British magazine Gay Times to recognise LGBT individuals who have made a difference in their field. 🏅
Justin Fashanu, 1961-1998
📍Canada Water station
Justinus Soni “Justin” Fashanu was an English footballer and a ground-breaker both off and on the pitch. ⚽️ In 1981 he became the UK’s most expensive black footballer with his £1 million transfer fee from Norwich City to Nottingham Forest. 💰 Then in 1990 became the first footballer to reveal he was gay. 🏳️🌈 Thirty years on, he is still the only male footballer to reveal his sexuality while playing professionally in the elite leagues. He died by suicide in 1998. In 2002, Fashanu was inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.
Metropolitan line – Physicians 💜
Princess Ademola, 1916-unknown
Princess Omo-Oba Adenrele Ademola was a Nigerian princess and nurse. 👩⚕️ She trained as a nurse in London in the 1930s living in Africa Hostel in Camden Town – an important social and political scene for West Africans in Britain. Her nursing career spanned 30 years, including through World War II. 🏥 She was the subject of a film, Nurse Ademola, made by the Colonial Film Unity. The film was screened across West Africa and said to have inspired many African viewers for the imperial war effort. Her activity after the 1940s is not known.
Dr Davidson Nichol, 1924-1994
📍North Harrow station
Dr Davidson Sylvester Hector Willoughby Nicol CMG or Abioseh Nicol was a Sierra Leoneon academic, diplomat, physician, writer and poet. At 22 he graduated from Cambridge with a first class honours degree (the first African to do so), earned is PHD at 34 then went on study for another degree in medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, Univeristy of London’s medical school. One of Nicol’s biggest contributions was to medical science. He was the first to analyse the breakdown of insulin in the human body, a discovery which was a significant breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes.
Piccadilly line – Performers 💙
Evelyn Dove, 1902-1987
📍Sudbury Town station
Evelyn Mary Dove was a British singer and actress. Born in the Lying-In hospital in London to her Sierra Leoneon barrister father and an English mother, Dove is recognised as a “trailblazing performer: making history in 1939 as the first black singer to feature on BBC Radio. 📻
Throughout World War II she enjoyed the same appeal as the ‘Forces Sweetheart’, Vera Lynn. The BBC employed Evelyn all through the war, and she proved to be one of radio’s most popular singers. 🎤 Her brother and sister were also high achievers – her brother served in the Battle of Cambrai and was awarded the Military Medal and her sister was a journalist, politician and writer.
Victoria line – Literary world 💙
Len Garrison, 1943-2003
📍Warren Street station
Lenford Alphonso (Kwesi) Garrison was an educationalist, community activist and historian whose life’s work was dedicated to cataloguing the development of the Black British identity and its history, which significantly contributed to the development of a multicultural curriculum in British schools. 📝 To this end, he set up the Afro-Caribbean Education Resource and co-founded the Black Cultural Archives. 📚
Buchi Emecheta, 1944-2017
📍 Walthamstow Central station
Florence Onyebuchi “Buchi” Emecheta OBE was a Nigerian-born pioneering novelist, based in the UK from 1962. After her husband burned the manuscript of her first novel, she left him, raising her five children alone – working at the British Museum by day and studying for a Sociology degree at night. Emecheta wrote over 20 books exploring sexual politics and racial prejudice 📚, including Second Class Citizen, The Bride Price, The Slave Girl and The Joys of Motherhood. She has been lauded as the first successful black woman novelist living in Britain after 1948. 📕
Northern line – Community organisers 🖤
Una Marson, 1905-1965
Una Maud Victoria Marson was an influential Jamaican feminist, activist, and writer, producing poems, plays and radio programmes. 📻 She arrived in the UK in 1932 and was helped by founder of the League of Coloured Peoples, Dr Harold Moody. In 1939 she became involved in broadcasting and joined the staff of the BBC. During World War II she became the BBC’s first black woman programme maker, producing Calling the West Indies, a programme broadcasting messages from servicemen and women in England to their families and friends in the Caribbean. ❤️
Paulette Wilson, 1956-2020
📍Tufnell Park station
Paulette Wilson was an activist who fought her own deportation to Jamaica and brought media attention to the human rights violations of the Windrush scandal. Wilson arrived in the UK aged 10 to live with her grandparents and spent most of her adult life working as a chef, including in the House of Commons restaurant.
Despite arriving in the UK legally, Wilson received a letter from the Home Office in 2016 informing her she was an illegal immigrant and would be deported. She was arrested twice, spending time in a detention centre before a last minute reprieve thanks to an intervention by her local MP. Wilson’s speaking out to The Guardian encouraged others to do the same, and Wilson spent the last years of her life campaigning for the thousands of people that arrived legally in the UK in 50s and 60s, now being wrong categorised as immigration offenders. She died peacefully but unexpectedly in her sleep in July 2020.