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>A set of rare photographs showing African slaves being freed by the Royal Navy.
>Samuel Chidwick, 74, has donated photographs taken by his father Able Seaman Joseph Chidwick, born in 1881, on board HMS Sphinx off the East African coast in about 1907. The photographs, on display at the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth, Hants, show a sailor removing the manacle from a newly-freed slave as well as the ship’s marines escorting captured slavers. Mr Chidwick, of Dover, Kent, said: “The pictures were taken by my father who was serving aboard HMS Sphinx while on armed patrol off the Zanzibar and Mozambique coast. “They caught quite a few slavers and those particular slaves that are in the pictures happened while he was on watch. “That night a dhow sailed by and the slaves were all chained together. He raised the alarm and they got them on to the ship and got the chains knocked off them. “They then questioned them and sent a party of marines ashore to try to track the slave traders down. “They caught two of them and I believe they were of Arabic origin. “My father thought the slave trade was a despicable thing that was going on, the slaves were treated very badly so when they got the slavers they didn’t give them a very nice time.” Jacquie Shaw, spokeswoman for the Royal Naval Museum, said: “The museum and the Royal Navy are delighted to announce the donation of a nationally important collection of unique photographs taken by Able Seaman Joseph John Chidwick during his service on the Persian Gulf Station where the crew of HMS Sphinx were engaged in subduing the slave trade. “The collection comprises a fascinating and important snapshot of life on anti-slavery duties off the coast of Africa.” The exhibition, ‘Chasing Freedom -The Royal Navy and the suppression of the Transatlantic Slave Trade’, is being held until January next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. The House of Commons passed a bill in 1805 making it unlawful for any British subject to capture and transport slaves but the measure was blocked by the House of Lords and did not come into force until March 25, 1807. Mrs Shaw said that since the exhibition opened, members of the public had brought forward several historically-important items. She said: “As well as these amazing images, members of the public have brought many other unheard stories of the Royal Navy and the trade in enslaved Africans to the museum’s attention including the original ship’s log of the famed HMS Black Joke of the West Coast of Africa Station.”