Following a public consultation, Goldsmiths, University of London has decided that four statues on the front of Deptford Town Hall should remain in place.
People in the Lewisham area were asked what they thought should happen to the statues of Sir Francis Drake, Cromwellian admiral Robert Blake, Lord Horatio Nelson, and an anonymous representative naval figure. These four figures either have links to Britain’s role in slavery or the colonial system that supported slavery.
Options included retaining the statues with further explanation, altering some or all of the statues, or removing some or all of the statues.
The results from a postal survey sent to around 8,500 homes in the New Cross area showed that 58% of the 122 respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed with the removal of the four statues. This rose to 68% who strongly disagreed or disagreed that only the three named statues should be removed.
An online survey where anyone could submit their views showed that 85% of the 4,921 respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed with the removal of the four statues.
When asked which options to alter the statues they preferred the most popular option was interpretation panels and resources for local schools explaining their history, with 26% of local postal respondents and 16% of online respondents favouring this option.
After carefully considering the results of the public consultation alongside other evidence Goldsmiths’ Council, the most senior decision-making body of the College, agreed that Goldsmiths will not seek permission to remove the statues. Instead the College will erect free standing explanation panels on the window ledges beneath the statues and develop a civic and schools engagement programme and a grant for local artists of colour to explore the issues raised by Deptford Town Hall and its statues.
Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their views as part of our public consultation. We will continue to consult with local people as we develop our plans to address the complex legacy of the area’s maritime heritage embodied in the Deptford Town Hall statues.”