Shepherd Neame revealed the 404-year old Black Boy in Sevenoaks will soon be renamed as the brewer and operator asserted its commitment to equality, diversity and creating “inclusive, welcoming pub environments for all customers to enjoy”.
“After much deliberation, we have decided to seek consent from relevant authorities to change the name and provide new signage for the Black Boy in Sevenoaks,” a statement read.
“It was not a decision taken lightly, but we recognise that its current name is not potentially welcoming for all customers and feel it is the right thing to do.”
The news comes after research conducted by global intelligence platform Streetbees found one-in-three Brits would actively avoid a pub if its name or signage had racial connotations or commemorated a historical figure associated with slavery, racism or colonialism.
The right thing to do
Shepherd Neame added that the 17th century venue, which has also been called Evergreens and Bank Street Brasserie in recent years, will soon be known as the Restoration in tribute to King Charles II, who was restored to the throne in 1660 following the period of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth.
“One of the most historic pubs in Sevenoaks, the Black Boy dates back to 1616,” it continued. “Some suggest the pub was named after John Morockoe, who worked at nearby Knole country house during the reign of James I.”
“There are many Black Boy pubs around the country, however, and a number of theories for the choice of name. Some suggest it could be connected to coal mining or chimney sweeps.
“It could also refer to the nickname given to King Charles II due to his dark-hued skin and exile during Cromwell’s reign. It is believed a number of pubs changed their name to the Black Boy to show their allegiance.
“In order to reflect the pub’s long history, we have chosen to focus on its potential connection with King Charles II and are therefore proposing to rename it the Restoration.
“Every other element of the pub’s popular offer will remain the same.”
Following the response to the news on social media, the brewer and operator later added: “We have considered the issues carefully, and while we appreciate that some customers may not agree with our decision, we believe it is the right thing to do.”
Pubs under pressure
The renaming of the Black Boy in Sevenoaks follows news reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA) that similarly named pubs in Oxfordshire and Nottinghamshire had faced calls to rename in the wake of anti-racism protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
On 15 June, it was reported that the operator of the Black Boy pub in Retford, Nottinghamshire, had removed an antiquated sign amid fears it could see the venue targeted by anti-racism protesters.
What’s more, family brewer and pub operator Everards of Leicestershire was forced to deny claims it has outright refused to change the name of the Black Boy in Headington, Oxford, after a petition stated that it had thrown out suggestions of a rebrand.
Elsewhere pub giant JD Wetherspoon revealed that it is open to the possibility of renaming the Elihu Yale pub in Wrexham due to its namesake’s historic links East India Company in Madras and its Indian Ocean slave trade.
Faversham-based Shepherd Neame expects to resume trading at least two thirds (190) of its pubs before the end of July, according to chief executive Jonathan Neame.