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Beckford School to open talks on changing name after slave history row

Headteacher wants children to learn how to 'move forward to an equal society'

12 June, 2020 — By Tom Foot

William Beckford was London Mayor who own sugar plantations in Jamaica

A PRIMARY School has agreed to open talks about changing its name following the row over its links to slave history.

Sam Drake, the headteacher of Beckford School, in West Hampstead, said the views of parents of current pupils would take priority during a consultation.

William Beckford, who the school is named after, was a former Mayor of London who amassed a huge personal wealth from sugar plantations in Jamaica, where he “owned” 3,000 slaves.

The New Journal revealed yesterday (Thursday) that the council had agreed to set up a cross party panel of councillors to review names of all its property portfolio, including Beckford School, with links to the slave trade and British imperialism.


The move has been triggered by the brutal death of George Floyd in the United States and the Black Lives Matter protests across the world.

Mr Drake said: “There has been a lot of interest in local newspapers and on social media, regarding the origins of Beckford Primary School’s name.

“In response to this, Camden Council have set up a cross-party review to examine statues, monuments and place names.

“As a school, we stand together with the local authority in rejecting racism. We also believe in educating our children, so that we can move forward together towards an equal society.

“On Wednesday, I met with governors to discuss changing the name of the school and we agreed that, subject to the outcome of the Camden review, we will seek to start the process on consulting with stakeholders about a new name.

“Therefore, we will initially be consulting parents of children at the school, whose views will take priority.

“We are committed to engaging with the school community and will involve our families, staff, governors and children within any decision making.”

Camden Council’s review of buildings, however, could take several months to conclude.

The school was originally called Broomsleigh School but was then named after Beckford, whose wife lived nearby in the 19th century, in 1929.

A recently-built private housing block in Heritage Lane, also in West Hampstead, is named after Beckford’s heir. The building’s freeholder said it would support a name change if a majority of tenants agreed.


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