JDW ‘willing to consider’ new pub name due to slave trade connection

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Petition launched: 'Wetherspoon is certainly willing to consider a change of name,' a JDW spokesperson said
Petition launched: 'Wetherspoon is certainly willing to consider a change of name,' a JDW spokesperson said

Related tags Wetherspoon Beer Public house Alcoholic beverage

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon (JDW) has revealed it is open to the possibility of renaming one of its sites due to historic links with the slave trade.

According to its website, the Elihu Yale in Wrexham, north Wales, was named after a 17th​ century merchant who was instrumental in the founding of Yale University and is buried in the town’s churchyard.

However, an online petition has been launched to change the pub's name in light of Elihu Yale’s involvement with the East India Company in Madras and its Indian Ocean slave trade. 

The petition, which had been signed by 578 people – more than half of its target – at the time of writing, states: “Elihu Yale, who was originally from Massachusetts, America moved to London when he was three years old. 

“He and his family made their fortune within the slave trade and has since been glorified for their involvement in the most sadistic part of human history.

“Until very recently the sign on the front of the pub depicted Elihu with a black slave chained next to him. Due to retaliation from the community, the Wetherspoons pub sign was taken down and changed, but the name of the pub remains the same.

“This needs to be acknowledged and rectified and we need your signatures to make this happen.”

The petition also calls for the pub be renamed as "Old Man Spoons" or Llwyau Hen Ddyn in Welsh, claiming that is what it is commonly known as in Wrexham.

According to a spokesperson from JDW, the pub operator was “not aware” of any connections between Yale and the slave trade.

“We called it the Elihu Yale because he was involved in the foundation of what is now Yale University in the US, as we understand it,” the spokesperson said. “We will look into these allegations, which are very concerning.

“JDW is certainly willing to consider a change of name.”

Shining a light 

The petition to change the name of the Elihu Yale comes as the pub was listed on a crowdsourced map of UK statues and monuments that celebrate slavery and racism produced by the Stop Trump Coalition in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the protesters who toppled Bristol’s statue of Edward Colston in Bristol.

The Topple the Racists project, aims to promote debate, according to its website, stating that “it's important to shine a light on the continued adoration of colonial icons and symbols.” 

The crowdsourced map also featured the Green Man pub in Ashbourne, Derbyshire – which until 9 June displayed the caricature of a black man’s head – as well as the Black Boy pub in Retford, Nottinghamshire, which recently removed a sign amid fears it could be targeted by anti-racism protesters.

According to its website, the Topple the Racists project believes it is up to communities to have the final say on who they want to commemorate while aiming to promote “much needed’ dialogue and the renaming of streets and buildings which are seen to celebrate slavery and racism.

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