Locals vote to keep Deptford Town Hall statues with slavery links

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The four figures either have links to Britain’s role in slavery or the colonial system that supported slavery / Image: Goldsmiths
The four figures either have links to Britain’s role in slavery or the colonial system that supported slavery / Image: Goldsmiths

A set of four statues with slavery links are to remain outside Deptford Town Hall after a consultation with Lewisham residents.

The statues are of Sir Francis Drake, Cromwellian admiral Robert Blake, Lord Horatio Nelson, and an anonymous representative naval figure.

These four figures either have links to Britain’s role in slavery or the colonial system that supported slavery.

Deptford Town Hall has been owned by Goldsmiths, University of London, since 1998 and is now part of the university’s campus.

Back in 2019, students from occupied Deptford Town Hall for 137 days to protest the alleged systematic racism at Goldsmiths.

The pupil's demands included a strategic plan to tackle racism on campus and the removal of the statues.

Goldsmiths, University of London, put forward the ideas of keeping the statues but providing further explanation, altering some or all of the statues, or removing some or all of the statues.

The results from a postal survey sent to around 8,500 homes in the New Cross area showed that 58 per cent of the 122 respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed with the removal of the four statues.

68 per cent of respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed that only the three named statues should be removed, meaning that just anonymous representative naval figure would have been kept.

The consultation ran from September 1, 2021 to October 17, 2021.

After considering the results of the survey alongside other evidence, Goldsmiths, University of London, decided that it will not seek permission from the council to have the statues removed.

Goldsmiths has explained that it will instead of removing the statutes, explanation panels on the window ledges beneath the statues will be installed as well as developing a civic and schools engagement programme.

There will also be a grant for local artists of colour to explore the issues surrounding the statues.

Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their views as part of our public consultation.

“We will continue to consult with local people as we develop our plans to address the complex legacy of the area’s maritime heritage embodied in the Deptford Town Hall statues.”

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