Council leader says road names should not reflect a 'frozen past'
Sri Guru Singh Sabha on Havelock Road. Picture: Google Streetview
Havelock Road in Southall could be renamed Guru Nanak Road Ealing council leader Julian Bell has said.
In a video message to residents, he said a review into public landmarks in Ealing will begin as he welcomed the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to look at how public spaces in London represent the city in the present day.
The move comes as George Floyd protesters in the UK have been calling out controversial statues celebrating slave traders.
In Bristol, protesters pulled down a statue of slave trader and merchant Edward Colston, who donated his wealth to the city upon his death. His legacy still remains in streets and buildings.
Havelock Road is named after General Sir Henry Havelock who died in 1857 during the Indian Rebellion. He has no association in with the slave trade and there is still a street in Lucknow, where he fought three battles, named after him. There is also a statue of him in Trafalgar Square which was placed there after money was raised through public subscription. While he was Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone suggested that his statue should be replaced by that of someone ‘more relevant’.
Cllr Bell said: “Our diversity is our strength and we need to make sure that our public realm, our statues, our road names, our buildings, reflect our diversity and do not reflect a frozen past where colonialism, racism and the slave trade were present and celebrated.”
A consultation will be launched over changing Havelock Road to Guru Nanak Road, with the process to begin “very shortly”.
The road is home to Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall, which is the largest gurdwara outside of India according to its official website. It was established in the 1950s.
There has been no indication given that the Havelock Estate in Southall is being considered for renaming.
Cllr Bell added: “Havelock Road is where the largest Sikh gurdwara in western Europe is cited and as part of its 550-year celebrations of the birth of Guru Nanak this year, we want to make this name change to Havelock Road to Guru Nanak Road.
“This will symbolise the huge contribution of our Sikh community in Ealing and also diversity as a borough, and also it will represent our unity as a borough too.”
Virendra Sharma MP for Ealing Southall said, "I welcome the decision by Ealing Council to finally rename Havelock Road - decolonising our streets. As the Member of Parliament for Ealing Southall and a Councillor for 25 years before that I have often been ashamed the names of empire still pervade our streets. I have long campaigned for schools to teach more about our Imperial past, not just the great strides made but also the shameful thuggery and violence, names like Havelock belong in books, classrooms and museums, not on the streets to be celebrated.
"The community should come together to decide how we rename this road, but celebrating Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his 550th anniversary, and erasing a white man who killed Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, would be a sign of our multiculturalism and our diversity."
June 10, 2020