City of London Corporation launches review of statues linked to slavery

1 September 2020, 13:24

A statue of slave trader Robert Milligan was taken down in June
A statue of slave trader Robert Milligan was taken down in June. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The City of London Corporation has launched a review of its statues of people with links to slavery.

As part of its response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the body in charge of London’s financial district - known as the Square Mile - is appealing for the public to express its views on whether to take down statues and other landmarks with historic links to slavery and racism.

The three-month consultation will look at whether to fully remove the statues, reinterpret them or keep them where they are.

Statues and memorials with links to slavery and racism have become a target of Black Lives Matter activists, with several statues of British colonialists and American Confederates being toppled this year.

The Lloyd’s of London insurance firm and the Bank of England are among several City of London organisations that have apologised for past links to slavery.

One statue targeted for removal by a petition in June is a monument to William Beckford, twice Lord Mayor of London in the 1760s and the largest slave owner of his time.

A large statue of Mr Beckford stands in the Guildhall - the ancient municipal building of the City of London Corporation.

The Government rejected the petition to remove it, however, on the grounds it was a matter for the local authority.

In June, a statue of Robert Milligan - an 18th century slave trader - was removed from outside a museum in the Docklands area of the capital.

In the same month, a statue of Edward Colston - a merchant and philanthropist who benefitted from the slave trade - was toppled by protesters in Bristol and thrown into the river.

A statue of a Black Lives Matter protester has been put in its place by a local artist, but was later removed.