Gloucester City Monuments Review
Review of all monuments, statues and plaques within the City connected with the Trans-Atlantic trafficking of enslaved Africans
On Thursday 9th July 2020 the following motion was passed at a meeting of the Council:
‘Council is appalled by and condemns the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA.
Council recognises and supports the ‘Black Lives Matter’ efforts to raise awareness of racial inequality and institutionalised racism within the United Kingdom, however deplores any violence and damage in the name of the campaign.
Council notes that black people in the United Kingdom are:
- 8 x more likely to be stopped as part of ‘stop and search laws’ than white people
- More likely to be in low paid jobs or unemployed
- More likely to live in poor housing conditions
- Less likely to have good educational opportunities
- More likely to die from the COVID-19 pandemic
Council recognises that whilst we have generally good community relations in the City, and these are reinforced by our cross party equalities working group we remain committed to tackling racial discrimination and working with our BAME community to address issues of racial discrimination. Council resolves to:
- Write to the American Ambassador on behalf of the City setting out our deep concerns and condemnation at the killing of George Floyd.
- Set up a Commission with partner organisations in the City including the Police & Crime Commissioner, County Council, NHS, the Civic Trust and representatives of BAME community to review race relations in Gloucester with a view to producing recommendations to improve the lives of and enhance opportunities for BAME communities within the City.
- Undertake a review of all monuments, statues and plaques including Bakers Quay within the City connected with the slave trade/ plantation ownership and for Cabinet and Scrutiny to consider its recommendations, taking advice from the Commission, and further resolves to review the way in which the contribution of minority communities is presented as part of the City’s history, including at the Museum of Gloucester.’
The first two of the above bullet points are addressed elsewhere and further information can be found on the City Council’s website at https://www.gloucester.gov.uk/about-the-council/equality-and-cohesion/gloucester-city-commission-to-review-race-relations/.
The third bullet point required a review of all monuments, statues and plaques within the City connected with the Trans-Atlantic trafficking of enslaved Africans. This review was undertaken over the course of late 2020 and 2021.
The report is available here. Listed below are a summary of the recommendations made in the main report of the Gloucester City Monuments Review. These recommendations have been produced in consultation with the Gloucester City Commission to Review Race Relations and are listed below for easy consideration. There are two sets of recommendations. These are ‘General Recommendations’ which are concerned with council or city-wide issues and ‘Specific Recommendations’ pertaining to a particular heritage asset.
These are discussed in more detail in section 7 of the main report.
- Where changes to the management or presentation of a heritage asset are being considered a programme of public consultation or engagement should be undertaken. This process should be transparent and inclusive.
- The council should consider undertaking a broader review of Gloucester’s colonial or imperial legacies and links.
- The council should pursue education or interpretation projects at a city-wide level to improve public understanding of this topic. The council should work in partnership with appropriate stakeholders to develop specific educational resources that can be used locally. This will require a budget for implementation.
- The Museum of Gloucester should create a permanent display sharing the history of the City and of the objects connected to the Transatlantic Slave Trade from 2023, with a temporary display undertaken sooner.
- The council should seek imaginative options to address the City’s contested history in a way that both challenges and educates. This could include interpretation panels, new monuments or public art. Opportunities should also be sought to celebrate the city’s multicultural community.
- The council should in future consider the background of new street names and monuments to avoid inadvertently commemorating or memorialising a link to the slavery economy. When considering new street names, the council should look for opportunities to celebrate Gloucester’s multicultural history.
- The council should encourage the Cathedral authorities to proactively identify contested heritage assets (especially celebratory monuments) within the Cathedral, and having done so, to explain, acknowledge or interpret those assets in accordance with the new national framework.
- The council should welcome and support the plans of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum to both better discuss and educate with regard to historic slavery, and to promote the historic role of Black and ethnic minority soldiers in the Gloucestershire regiments.
These are discussed in more detail in section 9 of the main review report:
Baker’s Quay: The council should engage with the owners of Baker’s Quay to discuss options for the ‘repurposing’ of that public space in a way that educates, commemorates and acknowledges Gloucester’s historic links to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Phillpotts Warehouse: The council should seek to contextualise the history of Phillpotts warehouse using interpretation.
United Reformed Church: The council should consult with the owners and/or users of this building to consider realistic options for interpretation and contextualization of the George Whitefield memorial.
Blue Plaque on St Mary De Crypt School Room: The council should encourage the Civic Trust to contextualise this plaque to reflect George Whitefield’s connections with the transatlantic slavery economy.
Memorial in St Mary De Crypt: The council should engage with Discover de Crypt to produce educational resources and on-site displays that provide a full context to George Whitefield’s life and works.
Whitfield Street names: The council should consult with residents on the renaming of the two identified Whitefield Street names.
Whitfield House: The council should approach the owners to discuss renaming this building.