Craftwork reveals secrets of forgotten Victorian mission to the heart of Africa at Wisbech Museum

PUBLISHED: 16:54 13 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:54 13 May 2019

Poisoned arrows go on show at Wisbech and Fenland Museum from this week in the first of a series of exhibitions about the anti-slavery movement and the museum's collection. Pictured is the steamships Albert, Wilberforce and Sudan before they left Britain for West Africa, 1841. Picture: MUSEUM.

Poisoned arrows go on show at Wisbech and Fenland Museum from this week in the first of a series of exhibitions about the anti-slavery movement and the museum's collection. Pictured is the steamships Albert, Wilberforce and Sudan before they left Britain for West Africa, 1841. Picture: MUSEUM.

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Poisoned arrows go on show at Wisbech and Fenland Museum from this week in the first of a series of exhibitions about the anti-slavery movement and the museum's collection.

Poisoned arrows go on show at Wisbech and Fenland Museum from this week in the first of a series of exhibitions about the anti-slavery movement and the museum's collection. Pictured is a finely decorated calabash bought by Dr Stanger on the Niger Expedition. Picture: MUSEUM.
Poisoned arrows go on show at Wisbech and Fenland Museum from this week in the first of a series of exhibitions about the anti-slavery movement and the museum's collection. Pictured is a finely decorated calabash bought by Dr Stanger on the Niger Expedition. Picture: MUSEUM.

The arrows were brought back by one of the Victorian museum's founder members, Dr William Stanger of Tydd Gote, from the 1841 steamship expedition up the River Niger.

A number of strikingly beautiful African textiles and artefacts which he bought on the expedition have never previously been displayed to the public.

Museum curator, Robert Bell, said: "To mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth this month we decided to bring out this amazing collection.

"The Niger Expedition was supported by the British Government and Prince Albert.

Poisoned arrows go on show at Wisbech and Fenland Museum from this week in the first of a series of exhibitions about the anti-slavery movement and the museum's collection. Pictured is a calabash bought by Dr Stanger on the Niger Expedition. Picture: MUSEUM.Poisoned arrows go on show at Wisbech and Fenland Museum from this week in the first of a series of exhibitions about the anti-slavery movement and the museum's collection. Pictured is a calabash bought by Dr Stanger on the Niger Expedition. Picture: MUSEUM.

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"It set off in three steamships upriver from the Niger delta with the declared aim of promoting trade in goods, not slaves.

"But tragically more than half its members were killed by fever within a month, and their mission was abandoned."

The Museum is keeper of the anti-slavery campaign chest toured round Britain from the 1780s to 1830s by Wisbech abolitionist Thomas Clarkson.

The exhibition runs from May 11 to June 15.

Find out more at www.wisbechmuseum.org.uk

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