How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

Sugar castor

Made in Staffordshire, England, 1780s
Cream-coloured earthenware

Object number 1923.836
Bequeathed by Thomas Greg

See this object at Manchester Art Gallery This object may not always be on display. Please check with the venue before visiting.

Sugar castor

This elegant sugar castor was made during the 1780s, a time when sugar was beginning to become more widely available in Britain and Europe, due to the expansion of slave-worked plantations in the Caribbean. It almost certainly once contained slave-grown sugar. It is made of a kind of fine pottery called creamware, first made by Josiah Wedgwood and successfully exported all over the world. Intended to mimic the fine whiteness of porcelain, creamware was bought mainly by the middle classes, bringing a new elegance to their dinner tables.

This castor once belonged to Thomas Tylston Greg, a wealthy collector of English pottery who bequeathed his large collection of over a thousand objects to Manchester Art Gallery in 1920. His collection was put together during the late 1800s, and is widely considered amongst ceramics scholars to be one of the most important collections of English pottery in the country.

The Greg family was prominent in Manchester business and politics. Thomas Greg's grandfather Samuel Greg established Quarry Bank Mill at Styal, Cheshire, in 1784, a cotton spinning mill which made the family's fortune. They also owned businesses in Dominica, including two sugar plantations which used slave labour. Cloth produced at Quarry Bank Mill was sent to clothe their enslaved African workers.

This information was provided by curators at Manchester Art Gallery.