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Sensing Sugaropolis

20 November, 2020, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Activities will be taking place both in-person (socially distanced) and online.

Pick up your own sensory kit to discover the sites and smells of the recent history of Greenock’s sugar industry at home. Once a busy trading port of the British Empire known as ‘Sugaropolis’, Greenock became a global hub for sugar refining in the mid-19th century, built on wealth generated from imports arriving from Caribbean plantations which depended on the labour of imported enslaved Africans. Shipyard and refinery owners in Greenock grew wealthy from their trades, while migrant labourers, displaced by the Highland clearances and Irish famine, joined German sugar-bakers and Italian grocers and confectioners working in the town. You can collect a free sensory kit from the Watt Institution throughout the Being Human Festival (please check the Watt Institution website for their current opening hours). A limited number of kits are also available by post. To request one, please email events@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.

You can also watch a special video introducing the recent industrial past of this part of Scotland, and learn how our senses can unlock memories of the past. The video will be available online during the festival.

‘Sensing Sugaropolis’ is part or a wider suite of initiatives which explore the history of Greenock’s sugar industry. Whilst this particular strand is focused on memories of the smells and sites of the recent, local past, this history is inextricably linked to the transatlantic slave trade. You can find further resources on this here.


Suitable for all ages.

Dr Emma Bond, Reader, Transnational Cultural Studies, University of St Andrews Dr Mona Bozdog, Lecturer in Immersive Experience Design, Abertay University

Free. Sensory kits will be available on a first come, first serve basis.

In partnership with

The Watt Institution

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Booking required?



20 November, 2020
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
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Is booking required?
Contact email address
Event partners
The Watt Institution
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Please contact the organiser directly for more information.
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Image reproduced courtesy of Emma Bond.


The Watt Institution
15 Kelly St
Greenock, Scotland PA16 8JX United Kingdom
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Accessibility information
Please contact the organiser directly for more information.
+44 (0)20 7969 5316