Permission has been granted by the City of London Corporation to mend a plaque to a statue with historical links to the to the enslavement of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade.
The statue depicts a William Beckford, who once served two terms as Lord Mayor and was also a plantation owner. As an on-going commitment to tackling racism in all forms, the organisation’s Court of Common Council – its primary decision-making body – previously agreed to ‘retain and explain’ the statue.
Another statue, of slave trader and former MP Sir John Cass, is also having its plaque restored but as it is not in the Grade I listed Great Hall like the William Beckford statue it does not require permission to refurbish.
The City Corporation has partnered with arts and heritage charity, Culture&, to commission designers, writers, and poets, and an inter-generational panel and the accessibility panel were consulted to develop a response to both statues.
After being given approval to continue by the Listed Building Consent, the plaques for both statues will be updated to explain the men’s links with the slave trade and is scheduled to be installed on the New Year.
City Corporation Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, said: “This is the next step in our journey in addressing, in an open and honest way, the City of London’s historic involvement in the horrific slave trade.
“We have been reflecting upon, and recognising, this terrible chapter in our history, and we are united in our commitment to ensuring that people from all backgrounds feel safe and welcome in a modern, inclusive and forward-looking City.”