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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 10:04 GMT
City launches 2m slavery centre
William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was a leading voice against slavery
A 2m centre to study the history of slavery has been set up in Hull - home of abolitionist William Wilberforce.

The Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation (Wise) is the brainchild of Hull University.

It is hoped the institute will form a centrepiece of the city's celebrations in 2007 to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

The city council says Wise will be "one of the most prestigious educational establishments in the country".

The centre will be housed at Oriel Chambers, a grade II listed building in the port's Old Town near the Wilberforce House Museum.

Hull City Council, a partner in the development, has leased the building to the university for a peppercorn rent, to be used as a base for both research and the storing of unique archive material of global importance.

We believe it will be a fitting tribute to the rich legacy of Wilberforce in the city of Hull
Prof David Richardson, Hull University

Wise is being supported by more than 2m of funding, including 1.3m from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward.

The centre was the idea of academics from the university's history department, spearheaded by Professors David Richardson and Mike Turner.

Profs Richardson and Turner said: "We believe it will be both a fitting tribute to the rich legacy of Wilberforce in the city of Hull and a suitable springboard for the exploration of the modern human rights agenda in its widest sense."

Hull City Council leader Colin Inglis said: "William Wilberforce was the conscience of parliament and the city is preparing to celebrate the bicentenary of his bill to abolish slave trading finally being passed in parliament in 1807.

"The new institute will continue the work Wilberforce pursued 200 years ago to bring international human rights issues to public and political attention."

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