Ask Beckford School to replace the name, and remove statues or paintings of the slaver.

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More than a hundred years after the last slave ship left British shores a primary school in north London (West Hampstead) was named after one of the biggest slave owners of the British Empire. He was William Beckford, an MP and two time mayor of London.

Beckford owed his vast wealth and political influence to the blood, sweat and tears of more than 3,000 slaves who laboured on his sugar plantations in Jamaica. But like fellow planter George Hibbert, who has almshouses in south London bearing his name and owned a valuable book collection, he cultivated a reputation as a refined English gentleman, lauded for championing British liberties and his philanthropy of the arts.

The statue was put up and the school named after him well after the abolition of the slave trade in our country. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

William Beckford has absolutely no place in London, and does not deserve any honours. The removal of the name, we propose, would bring recognition to Britain's role in the slave trade, and honour the people he enslaved. The name could be changed to that of a local historical figure without such an abhorrent past.

We must recognise and be conscious that London benefited from the enslavement of people and although we cannot change history, we also can not evade it.


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