Published: Thursday, 8th July 2021

Medway African and Caribbean Association (MACA) say the plaque will celebrate a historical Medway family.

Medway African and Caribbean Association (MACA) in partnership with the Nubian Jak memorial trust will be honouring two of Medway’s notable historical Black heroes, Chatham Cuffay, who after fleeing slavery and emigrated to Medway in 1772 worked at Chatham Dockyard, and his son William Cuffay, born in 1788, who was a chartist and a tailor, with a shop in Rochester High St. William died just over 150 years ago in July 1870.

MACA contacted Dr Jak Beula ,director of the Nubian Jak Memorial trust to discuss the installation of a memorial plaque in their honour.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham was chosen because of the links with Chatham Cuffay, and they felt it was an appropriate place to honor them both.

MACA held a 3 month exhibition at No 1 Smithery in 2018 of which William was featured, he was also a feature of a documentary filmed by UCA, and a play written by JD Douglas “ A Chatham Conversation”.

Significant contribution to Medway

Chairperson of MACA Carol Stewart says of the plaque “we are really proud to be unveiling this plaque to a family that made such a significant contribution to Medway. So much of our Black history is hidden or unknown, and without a balanced view of history that reflects all the important people who played a part in shaping it, then we will have a world where we continue to be misrepresented. Installing the plaque at the dockyard builds on the amazing work we have done with the team there in bringing to life the untold stories of Black people in Kent, and their contribution to making the dockyard more inclusive”

William started a movement that fought for the rights of workers, widely seen as the pre cursor to the Trade Union movement. The plaque was due to be unveiled last year, which was 150 years after his death, however due to COVID 19 this was postponed.

Serves as a marker

Dr Jak Beula said: "Nubian Jak is pleased to be working with MACA to remember and memorialise Chatham Cuffay and his illustrious son William in the town of Medway. The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a particularly poignant place to install this historic blue plaque, which also serves as a marker for 100s of Black people who via the dockyard became familiar with the town between the 18th and 19th century."

A family that made

Councillor Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “I’m pleased that the plaque will soon be officially unveiled at Chatham historic dockyard to celebrate a family that made such an impact. The equality and inclusion of all Medway residents is among our top priorities, and we are proud to celebrate everyone in our community. I look forward to visiting it once it’s been unveiled.”

MACA would like to acknowledge the support of funders and sponsors for the Plaque which include :

Medway Council Arts team

The Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

Chinara Enterprises Ltd

Medway TUC

Unite SE region

Councillor Lady Lola Magdalena Ministries

Medway Health Unison Branch

Steve Wilkins Medway TUC

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