Black History Month, James Clarke 1886-1946

21 October 2013 by Kay

October is Black History Month – which is a great opportunity to highlight local heroes like James Clarke.

James Clarke

James Clarke

James was born in British Guiana (now Guyana). When he was 14, he stowed away on a ship bound for Liverpool and was adopted by an Irish family living in the Scotland Road area.

James worked on the docks and joined Wavertree Swimming Club. He started teaching children to swim after rescuing many of them from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

James saved many locals from drowning in the Mersey and the docks, and taught countless others to swim. He was the first Black man to have a street named after him.

You can see some of James’ medals and a framed certificate ‘Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society, awarded to James Clarke for courageously diving into the West Waterloo Dock and rescuing a man from drowning on the 14th February 1911’ on display in The People’s Republic gallery, Museum of Liverpool.

Items kindly lent by Martin Clarke

  1. Brenda Woollam says:

    My ancestors lived in the Scotland Road area and were Irish, they were called Clarke. I was wondering if there is any connection here? How do I find out about the family who adopted him, or do you know this already and can furnish me with this? Or, what his future family was, if any by marriages? Clarke and Henney have been my ancestors.

    Kind regards


    • Kay says:

      Hi Brenda, thanks for your query. The family who adopted James were named Crawford.
      Best wishes

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