Southwark’s links to slavery under the spotlight – what could be on council’s audit?

Josh Salisbury (17 June, 2020)

We explore several Southwark locations with links to slavery - could they be part of the council's audit?

8116The council's offices on Tooley Street

Many of Southwark’s locations have been linked to the transatlantic slave trade.

It is these connections which will be explored under the council’s review to identify street names  and statues with negative links to slavery and colonialism, to instead promote “more diverse figures.”

Council officials say they do not yet have a list of locations being reviewed under the anti-racism audit, with a report on progress due “in the late summer.”

Cllr Johnson Situ will lead the review

A map created by the Museum of London Docklands, alongside Southwark Council, revealed areas with slavery links to commemorate the bicentenary of abolition in 1807.

Locations listed included Hay’s Galleria, a former wharf, for the quantities of coffee and tea imported there, often produced by slaves.

Nearby Tooley Street once was the site of many sugarhouses, to refine the sugar grown on plantations, although none exist today.

Historic street names which showed this link have already disappeared, such as a “Sugar Loaf Alley” in the parish of St Olave’s, and multiple pubs in Southwark called the Sugar Loaf.

Guy’s Hospital and Guy Street are both named after Thomas Guy, a shareowner in the slave-trading South Sea Company, which also features on the map.

A statue to Thomas Guy which is being taken down over his slavery links

Colonial links are also apparent in Bermondsey’s Jamaica Road, named after Britain acquired Jamaica as a colony from the Spanish in 1655.

The road was part of the route connecting the docks and warehouses in Southwark with those in Rotherhithe, Deptford and Woolwich, significant for the Elizabethan slave trade.

But its name could also come from the name of the Jamaica Tavern, often visited by Samuel Pepys, who himself sold a person into slavery.

Separately, other possible suggestions could include Flockton Street in Bermondsey, which may be named after Thomas Flockton, ‘reimbursed’ on the abolition of slavery for his 106 slaves from Jamaica.

But the audit may prove a chance to highlight examples of the borough’s positive contributions to the cause of abolitionism.

Among them could include Lancaster Street, where the British and Foreign School Society was founded in 1798.

Inspired by the work of abolitionist Thomas Clarkson, the school was active in educating former slaves.

However, it is not yet clear which street names or sculptures could be removed; or which new historical figures could instead be highlighted.

Contribute
diana says:

Maybe as Southwark has a large black community that audit also considers the part played by black slavers . The Atlantic slave trade could not have happened without them . If the issue us going to be discussed the whole picture has to be seen instead of just blaming white slavers . Its an issue black and white are just choosing to ignore and one has to ask why is that ?

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Southwark CouncilAudit