Public spaces naming review launched in Hackney following Edward Colston statue toppling

Signs and placards at the base of the Edward Colston statue plinth in Bristol city centre. Picture:

Signs and placards at the base of the Edward Colston statue plinth in Bristol city centre. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA

Hackney Council has launched a review into the naming of public spaces following the toppling of a statue celebrating a slave trader in Bristol.

On June 7, Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol threw a 125-year-old figure of slave trader Edward Colston into the Bristol Harbour.

It was the culmination of a long-running dispute which saw activists lobbying to have the statue taken down.

Hackney Council has said the naming of buildings, street names, parks and other public spaces will be reviewed to ensure they reflect the borough’s diversity.

READ MORE: Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott speaks out in solidarity with George Floyd protestersREAD MORE: Black Lives Matter: To deny the phrase is to deny a backdrop of racismIt said residents and partners will be consulted about how to tackle any problematic names.

For example, there is a statue of Sir Robert Geffrye outside the former Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch - which is housed in almshouses built with money from the slave trade.

The museum is being reopened later this year as the Museum of the Home.

Hackney mayor Philip Glanville said: “Hackney was also home to inspirational slave abolitionists and campaigners, but their names and stories do not adorn our public spaces in the same way [as people who profited from the slave trade].

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“This is not about trying to rewrite history – but we should question whether these statues, plaques, and building, park and street names belong in a museum to educate us about our past, rather than being celebrated into the future.”

Cllr Glanville said the review will listen to the public, institutions and historians to come to a collective decision about the future.

He added: “It is on all of us to educate ourselves about our borough’s history, which is why this review will build on the existing work of our museum and archives.

“It will also build on the work we already do to showcase black history.

“Our national curriculum must be updated to reflect these issues. In the meantime, our local curriculum will include enhanced educational materials on how black history has shaped Hackney.”

The Council will also take part in the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Real and will be announcing the outcome of its permanent Windrush Artwork Commission outside the Town Hall later this month.