Should Black Boys pub change its name?
The name of the Black Boys hotel in Aylsham could be reviewed amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the removal of public statues with links to slavery or racism.
Matthew Miller, manager of the historic pub in the town’s Market Place, said he was sensitive to the issues around Black Lives Matter, but at the moment their focus was on surviving the lockdown and looking ahead to when the venue can reopen.
Mr Miller said: “It’s not something that’s been brought to us before. But it will be under review at some stage when the partners can get together to talk about it and we can speak to customers to see how much of a general consensus there is.”
But Mr Miller added they would be “saddened” if they had to review the name.
It follows protestors pulling down a statue of Edward Colston in Bristol and authorities removing tributes to historical figures such as Robert Milligan and Robert Baden-Powell over links to racism.
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There are at least 25 pubs in England and Wales called The Black Boy or something similar. In recent days anti-racism campaigners have been questioning how appropriate the name is.
Managers of pubs called The Black Boy in cities such as Manchester and Oxford have been forced to defend their venues on social media.
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Many of the pubs, including Aylsham’s Black Boys, apparently trace the name to the 17th century King Charles II, who was known for his dark locks and swarthy looks.
But the Aylsham Black Boys’ website says the name could have a connection to the black boy slaves who were used as servants in local wealthy households in the 17th century.
Mr Miller said: “Our focus is on Charles II. We’re not entirely sure how the website ended up with the reference to the slave trade.”
Some other ‘Black Boy’ pubs said their name referred to the dirty faces of child chimneys weeps or coal miners.
The building that houses the Black Boys dates back to 1471, and it was converted to an inn in the 1650s. Daniel Defoe, Horatio Nelson and Princess Victoria are among the famous figures to have visited.
The pub is serving takeaway food including family-sized roast dinner boxes while the lockdown continues, and Mr Miller said they were converting their car park into a bar with an outdoor seating area for when the pub could reopen.