Hackney Council to rename Cassland Road Gardens to sever ties with ‘toxic history’ and slave trader John Cass

Cassland Road Gardens. Picture: Google

Cassland Road Gardens. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

Cassland Road Gardens is going to be one of the first public spaces in Hackney to get a name change to ditch its association with the “toxic history” of slave trader Sir John Cass.

Residents from the surrounding area in South Hackney will get a chance to choose the small park’s new name.

They will also get to decide whether to rename any of the nearby roads, which also have links to the 18th century Tory merchant was a major figure in the early development of the Atlantic slave trade, from which he made a considerable fortune.

The renaming will be one of the first actions taken following Hackney Council’s review into the naming of local landmarks, buildings and public spaces, announced last month as the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in America.

A steering group of cultural historians, community leaders, young people and other residents was set up, and will share further recommendations next month.

One of its members, Toyin Agbetu, said: “The immoral celebration of the Cassland name in Hackney is an issue that has stood for almost 200 years. It is time we are unapologetic about ensuring our borough’s public realm celebrates values of peace, equal rights and resistance to injustice, not toxic history that glorifies historic violence.

READ MORE: Scrutiny of monuments and statues around north London ‘an opportunity for education’“I have found working with the renaming taskforce a genuine process committed to delivering meaningful change. Listening and learning with a multigenerational, multiethnic selection of talented people, all committed to delivering solutions instead of empty fancy talk has given me hope that once this process is finished, Hackney will have a working democratic process for sharing anti-racist values in symbolic and systematic form. That’s progress.”

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville thanked the group for their time and commitment to the work.

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“In a short space of time they’ve really helped us to focus our thoughts,” he said. “This isn’t an easy process, and should not be rushed. The decisions we make now will affect people’s experiences of our public spaces for generations to come, so we want to make sure that we involve the community in meaningful discussions.

The education charity Sir John Cass’s Foundation has already committed to changing its name.