16th century pub 'The Black Boy' will be renamed after BLM protests

A 16th century pub called The Black Boy will be renamed next week after Greene King brewers claim it had 'links to racism'.

The pub in Shinfield, near Reading in Berkshire, will be called The Shinfield Arms from Monday 6th September. 

Villagers were asked to vote for the new name out of a choice of three options - The King's Rest, The Merry Monarch or The Shinfield Arms.

Many blasted the decision, calling for the historical The Black Boy name to stay.

A previous bid to re-brand the pub was withdrawn in 2017 after backlash on social media.

However, following Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the decision was made to change the name to prevent customers taking offence. 

The move has been slammed by critics who have branded the name changes on centuries old pubs as ‘more woke b****** and ‘beyond ridiculous’.

Another added: 'Give me f***ing strength. I can suggest the replacement names. The Woke and the Broke.'

The official changeover will take place on September 6, when new signs will be put up around the building. 

The pub is owned by brewers Greene King, which owns 3,100 watering holes and restaurants across England, Wales and Scotland. The group has claimed the name The Black Boy has 'racist connotations'.

The popular chain came under fire last year for its own links to slavery - with owners pledging to make donations to 'benefit the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community'. 

The pub chain was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene - who was one of 47,000 people who benefited from a policy of compensating slave owners when Britain abolished slavery in 1833.

He received the equivalent of £500,000 in today's money after giving up his claim to three West Indies plantations. 

Meanwhile, some historians say 'Black Boy' is a reference to King Charles and was a name given to pubs and taverns by his supporters during the English Civil War. The 'Merry Monarch' is another nickname that was given to the king.

Charles is reported to have stayed in a house close to the pub in Shinfield when trying to relieve the Siege of Reading during the war.

Earlier this year Greene King Pub Partners managing director Wayne Shurvinton said the decision had 'attracted a range of views'.

He added: '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 said Greene King planned to re-name two other Black Boy pubs - one in Bury St Edmunds, the other in Sudbury, Suffolk.

It also planned to change the name of The Black's Head in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Nick Mackenzie, Greene King CEO, said while the pub name 'Black Boy' exists throughout the country, 'there is no consensus on its origins and many of those consulted felt the name was offensive and discriminatory'.

He said: 'It is important to acknowledge our history but just as important to work proactively to eradicate racism in our society today.

'We have looked at pub deeds, consulted with colleagues and while the origins of this pub name is obscure what is clear is that there is a perception it is linked with racism today and we want to make this positive change for the better.

'We know this is a decision that will attract a range of views and we're conscious of the history and heritage of pub names.

'We've thought long and hard and feel this is the right thing to do as it is incredibly important to us that our pubs are warm and welcoming places for everyone as we continue on our journey to become a truly anti-racist organisation.'

The possible royal origins of 'The Black Boy' pub name 

Across England and Wales there are at least 25 different pubs called 'The Black Boy', or similar. 

Though the name is thought to have a number of origins, including the soot darkened faces of chimney sweeps, it is often thought to be a reference to King Charles II.

King Charles II

The monarch, who ruled England, Scotland and Ireland from 1660 until his death, aged 54, in 1665, was nicknamed 'Black Boy' by his mother, Henrietta Maria of France, due to his dark hair and complexion.

He was restored as the monarch in 1660 after his father Charles I was executed and the traditional monarchy system removed in 1649 in place of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth following the English Civil War.

Charles II's nickname was taken up by those who supported his attempts to restore the monarchy, who labelled themselves 'The Black Boys', and it is believed a number of pubs changed their name to The Black Boy as a show of allegiance.

Other suggestions for the name's origins including the misspelling of a nautical navigation marker, a 'buoy'.

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