Wetherspoon bosses confirm Black Boy pub in Wales will KEEP its name

Drinkers rejoice as Wetherspoon bosses confirm The Black Boy pub in Mid Wales will KEEP its 17th-century name – despite anti-racism campaigners demand for changes across Britain

  • The Black Boy pub in Newtown was named after 17th-century chimney sweeps  
  • Comes after Greene King announced it would rename 3 pubs called Black Boy  
  • 2 pubs in Suffolk and one in Berkshire will all be changed after BLM movement 

Wetherspoon bosses have confirmed The Black Boy pub in Wales will keep its name – despite activists saying it has ‘racist connotations’.

The Black Boy in Newtown, Powys, dates back to the 17th century and was named after chimney sweeps who would emerge from local properties covered in soot.

Pub regulars have also claimed the name came from a nickname given to King Charles II by his mother due to his dark hair and complexion.

Wetherspoon’s decision comes after pub chain Greene King announced it would rename two pubs in Suffolk and another in Berkshire all called The Black Boy in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.  

The Blacks Head in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, is also in the firing line – despite locals insisting the name comes from a bottle of ginger beer.

The Black Boy in Shinfield, Berkshire – which dates back to the 16th century – had various theories about where its name came from, including soot-covered coal miners and the nickname given to King Charles II.

Wetherspoon bosses have confirmed The Black Boy (pictured) in Wales will keep its name to preserve its history – despite activists saying the name has ‘racist connotations’ 

The Black Boy in Newtown, Powys, (pictured) dates back to the 17th century and was named after chimney sweeps who would emerge from local properties covered in soot

Wetherspoon’s decision comes after pub chain Greene King announced it would rename two pubs in Suffolk and another in Berkshire all called The Black Boy in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement (a protest in London this summer, pictured)

Bury St Edmunds’ pub with the same name dates back to 1683 and historians believe its current signage was a references the former King – who was restored as the monarch in 1660 following the period of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth. 

The 17th century monarch is said to have been nicknamed ‘Black Boy’ by his mother, Henrietta Maria of France, due to his dark hair and complexion.

The Black Boy in Sudbury also dates back to the 1500s.

Across England and Wales, there are at least 25 different pubs called The Black Boy, or similar. 

But the name has come under fire from anti-racism campaigners amid protests by the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.

Greene King pub regulars were left outraged at the proposed name changes – but patrons of The Black Boy in Newtown are relived their beloved local will keep its title. 

Punters in Newtown backed Wetherspoon’s decision to keep the name – and urged activists to ‘leave it alone’.

The Greene King has vowed to rename its pubs called The Black Boy (one in Bury St Edmunds, pictured) over fears the name has ‘racist’ connotations – sparking outrage among locals

Two pubs in Suffolk (The Black Boy in Shinfield, pictured) and another in Berkshire all called The Black Boy are set to get new names in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the pub chain has revealed

The Black Boy in Sudbury also dates back to the 1500s. Across England and Wales, there are at least 25 different pubs called The Black Boy, or similar

One pub visitor said: ‘I was always told that the name Black Boy was so called because it was after the small lads they sent up the chimneys. 

The possible royal origins of ‘The Black Boy’ pub name 

Across England and Wales there are at least 25 different pubs called ‘The Black Boy’, or similar. 

Though the name is thought to have a number of origins, including the soot darkened faces of chimney sweeps, it is often thought to be a reference to King Charles II.

King Charles II

The monarch, who ruled England, Scotland and Ireland from 1660 until his death, aged 54, in 1665, was nicknamed ‘Black Boy’ by his mother, Henrietta Maria of France, due to his dark hair and complexion.

He was restored as the monarch in 1660 after his father Charles I was executed and the traditional monarchy system removed in 1649 in place of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth following the English Civil War.

Charles II’s nickname was taken up by those who supported his attempts to restore the monarchy, who labelled themselves ‘The Black Boys’, and it is believed a number of pubs changed their name to The Black Boy as a show of allegiance.

Other suggestions for the name’s origins including the misspelling of a nautical navigation marker, a ‘buoy’.

‘Leave the name alone.’

Another criticised calls to change the pubs’ names across the country, saying: ‘We are being forced to delete anything that some sensitive soul finds the need to get upset about these days.’ 

A Wetherspoon spokesman said: ‘The pub in Newtown is called the Black Boy, which we believe is the historic name for a chimney sweep. There was a 17th century pub of this name on the same site.’

Wetherspoon carried out a £1.5m makeover after buying the pub in 2014.

A public vote on changing the name was conducted last year – but locals overwhelmingly voted for it to remain The Black Boy for the foreseeable future. 

The spokesman added: ‘To date, we haven’t received any complaints regarding the name, but will keep matters under review.’

Following Greene King’s decision to rename its pubs last month, locals took to social media to vent their frustration.

Kieran Fishwick said people calling for the change to the pub’s name in Bury St Edmunds should ‘stop getting angry over something that happened over 100 years ago’.

He added: ‘Martin Luther King knew he couldn’t change his family’s past but he knew he could secure a future for the future children of the world.

‘We need to be focusing on more important racial problems in society, not the name of a pub.’ 

Local historian Martyn Taylor said The Black Boy in Bury St Edmunds was first established in 1683 and its signage has changed many times throughout history. 

He told Suffolk News that while it was once a ‘non-PC sign of natives surrounding a large pot with its obvious connotation’ – it now depicts King Charles II.

He said: ‘Slavery is an abhorrent thing but we can’t change history.’ 

Meanwhile in Shinfield, furious locals took to Facebook to vent their frustration. 

Anita Matthews said: ‘For goodness sake, it’s been The Black Boy for years and has always been known as that. 

‘This world has gone PC mad. What’s an alternative “The Neutral Person”? Doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue!’

Daniel Risby added: ‘World has gone mad. I’m fairly sure it’s name comes from a race horse or something like that. 

‘Absolutely no need to rename it. It’s nothing to do with race.’

Phil Beckett also suggested its origins come from a race horse, writing: ‘It’s named after a racehorse with a black coat, for goodness sake! It’s a mad world.’

Meanwhile in Shinfield, furious locals took to Facebook to vent their frustration at the pub name change

Manu Dhaumya added: ‘It doesn’t offend anyone. No one cares what it’s called. I just want to have a nice cold pint and a medium rare steak And that’s it.’

Greene King came under fire last year for its own links to slavery – with owners pledging to make donations to ‘benefit the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community’. 

The pub chain was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene – who was one of 47,000 people who benefited from a policy of compensating slave owners when Britain abolished slavery in 1833.

He received the equivalent of £500,000 in today’s money after giving up his claim to three West Indies plantations.  

‘The Black Boy’ or similarly named pubs across England and Wales 

Here is a list of The Black Boy or similarly named pubs MailOnline could find in England and Wales:

The Black Boy – Winchester, Hants

Blackboys Inn – Blackboys, East Sussex

Black Boy – Sevenoaks, Kent

The Black Boy – Sidcup, London

The Black Boy – St Albans, Herts

The Black Boy – Oxford, Oxfordshire

Black Boys Inn – Maidenhead, Berkshire 

The Black Boy – Swansea, Wales

The Black Boy – Solihull, West Midlands

The Black Boy – Bewdley, West Midlands

The Black Boy Inn – Bridnorth, West Midlands

The Black Boy – Newtown, Wales

Black Boy Inn – Caernarfon, Wales

The Black Boy Inn – Hungarton, Leicestershire

The Black Boys – Aylsham, Norfolk

The Black Boy – Weeley, Essex

The Black Boy – Nether Heage, Derbyshire

The Black Boy – Manchester

The Black Boy – Retford, Nottinghamshire

Ye Olde Black Boy – Hull, East Riding

Blackie Boy – Newcastle

Greene King’s chief executive Nick Mackenzie said the company would update its website – which does not mention its historical ties to slavery – and apologised for the company’s role in the evil and inhumane practice. 

Managers of The Black Boy pubs who face name changes have agreed that the move is the right one.

Mark Eames, who runs The Black Boy in Bury St Edmunds, said: ‘Now is the right time to make this change and I look forward to the new name continuing to reflect the heritage and history of this pub which has been a part of Bury St Edmunds for hundreds of years.’

Katie Martin, of the Black Boy in Sudbury, said: ‘I’m happy to work alongside Greene King to proactively eradicate racism.

‘I’m keen to work with the people of Sudbury to choose a new name for this great pub and hotel that does not attract the same concern and questions as the current name.

‘As a society, we need to work together to be fully inclusive in all aspects of life and business and I feel a change of name would help make sure everyone feels included and welcome when they visit my historical pub and hotel.’

Greene King is to hold an online public vote so communities can pick a new name for the pubs from a list of suggestions.

The decision to change the name follows consultation with stakeholders and researching the pubs’ histories.

Nick Mackenzie, Greene King CEO, said while the origins of the name ‘is obscure, there is a perception that it is linked with racism’.

He acknowledged the move ‘will attract a range of views’. 

Greene King said that while the pub name The Black Boy exists throughout the country, ‘there is not a consensus on its origins and many of those consulted felt the name to be offensive and discriminatory’.

Mr Mackenzie said: ‘It is important to acknowledge our history but just as important to work proactively to eradicate racism in our society today.

‘We have looked at pub deeds, consulted with colleagues and while the origins of this pub name is obscure what is clear is that there is a perception that it is linked with racism today and we want to make this positive change for the better.

‘We know this is a decision that will attract a range of views and we’re conscious of the history and heritage of pub names. 

‘We’ve thought long and hard and feel this is the right thing to do as it is incredibly important to us that our pubs are warm and welcoming places for everyone as we continue on our journey to become a truly anti-racist organisation.

‘We’re keen to involve local people in this project and look forward to working with them to choose a new and inclusive name for these pubs so they remain at the heart of communities.’

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