Brewers Greene King have opted to change the name of The Black Boy pub in Shinfield, near Reading in Berkshire, in light of Black Lives Matter protests with the new sign to be erected on Monday
A centuries-old village pub called The Black Boy is having its name changed to The Shinfield Arms due to its “racist connotations”, according to its owners.
Brewers Greene King gave locals three re-brand choices for the popular boozer in Shinfield, near Reading, with a new sign to be erected on Monday.
However, some wanted the old name to stay but following Black Lives Matter protests last year the decision was made to make a change – though the interior of the pub will stay the same.
A previous bid to re-brand the pub was withdrawn in 2017 after a backlash on social media.
The losing options on the poll were The King’s Rest and The Merry Monarch.
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Some historians claim ‘Black Boy’ is a reference to King Charles II and was given to multiple pubs and taverns by his supporters due to a nickname of his referring to his dark hair and complexion.
The ‘Merry Monarch’ is another of his nicknames due to the hedonism of his court.
Charles is reported to have stayed in Shinfield when seeking to relieve the Siege of Reading during the English Civil War, and is reported to have stayed at a house close to where the pub is located.
But other historians believe there might have been two men who lived in Reading in the 1700s who kept slaves and had links to Jamaica.
Earlier this year, Victor Koroma, Reading’s Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality general manager, explained why changing the name was important.
“Because of the historical context I think it is offensive and it is right that it should be changed,” he said.
“I think that we (the Black community) would love to see it go and have a decent name on what is a public amenity rather than to keep harping back to the days that will hopefully never come again.”
Greene King Pub Partners managing director Wayne Shurvinton thanked those who had contacted the brewery with name suggestions before the shortlist was drawn up.
“It is clear that there is a perception that the name ‘Black Boy’ is linked with racism today and we want to make this positive change for the better as we work towards making Greene King a truly anti-racist organisation,” he continued.
He said Greene King planned to re-name two other Black Boy pubs – one in Bury St Edmunds, and the other in Sudbury, Suffolk.
They also planned a change to The Black’s Head in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.
Brewery CEO Nick Mackenzie said there is “not a consensus” on the origins of the Black Boy name and many people consulted “felt the name to be offensive”.
He added: “It is important to acknowledge our history but just as important to work proactively to eradicate racism in our society today.
“We’ve thought long and hard and feel this is the right thing to do.”
The re-naming is part of Greene King’s inclusion and diversity strategy, which aims to increase support for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
After Surrey-based Barons Pub Company took over the day-to-day running of the Shinfield pub in 2017, it quickly drew up plans to change the name to The Shinfield Arms.
But 250 people went on social media hitting out at the change and the firm backed down and said the pub would remain The Black Boy, despite it “causing concern” to some.
However, on Friday, Barons MD Clive Price said the company supports Greene King’s move to change the name.
“Times have changed in the light of global issues with racism and we appreciate Greene King’s proactive move to change a number of ‘Black Boy’ pub names across the country,” he added.