Paths Across Waters: Black British Stories in the North East

The Paths Across Waters: Black British History in the North East project highlights the shared histories and the lost connections linking the Caribbean and Africa to the North East of England. It  focuses  on  an  often  understudied  period  in  Black  British  history  before  the  1950s.Logo for the Paths Across Waters project: two men smiling and holding each other in fron of a sign saying West Indies House, Newcastle

The project follows the sailors, students, doctors, musicians, nurses, and journalists who came from the West Indies and West Africa and made the North East their home. Their personal stories overlap with the history of the British Empire and offer rich and fascinating details about Black experiences in Britain. They remind us that local and global histories should be studied together.

Each essay in “Places & Stories” is centered on a location in the North East and includes source material and links to further information: you can click on each location below to learn more about Black British History in the North East. The section “Lallie’s Book” is about a book of ferns and photos that travelled from Newcastle, Jamaica, to Newcastle, England. A list of suggested readings on Black British history and more information about the project can be found in “About Us.

Assembly Hall


Learn about the links between Sunderland and late 19th century activists, including Dominica-born Celestine Edwards and famous U.S. journalist Ida B. Wells, who devoted their lives to challenging racism and imperialism.

Colonial Students Club


When they were not studying for their exams, these students campaigned to dispel misconceptions about Africa during the interwar period. From their headquarters near Leazes Park, they went around the North East to give lectures and organize art exhibitions, concerts, and movie nights.

International Coloured Mutual Aid Association

North Shields

Building solidarity across the African Diaspora, this Association turned North Shields into a center of Black and interracial activities in the North East in the 1940s.

West Indies House


The first boarding house in the region was a home away from home for seafarers during the Second World War. Meetings and concerts took place there. Located 14-16 Lovaine Place, it was destroyed when the Civic Center was built.