our controversial statues will stay on a university building in south London after locals voted for them to stay.
The consultation, carried out in Lewisham by Goldsmiths, University of London, asked people what should happen to the statues of Elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drake, Cromwellian admiral Robert Blake, Lord Horatio Nelson and an anonymous representative naval figure all of whom are linked to the slave trade.
The statues were placed on Deptford Town Hall when it was the seat of local government and before its building became part of the wider Goldsmiths campus.
Students demanded that the statues be torn down in 2019 due to their links with slavery. Following the protests, the New Cross university consulted local residents.
The survey of around 8,500 homes in New Cross found 58% of the 122 respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed with the removal of the four statues. This rose to 68% who strongly disagreed or disagreed that only the three named statues should be removed.
An online survey where anyone could submit their views showed that 85% of the 4,921 respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed with the removal of the four statues.
When asked which options to alter the statues they preferred the most popular option was interpretation panels and resources for local schools explaining their history.
Goldsmiths’ Council, the senior decision-making body of the College, agreed it would not seek permission to remove the statues but instead will erect free standing explanation panels on the window ledges beneath the statues and develop a civic and schools engagement programme and a grant for local artists of colour to explore the issues raised by the statues to the men who are all linked with the development of the slave trade.
Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their views as part of our public consultation. We will continue to consult with local people as we develop our plans to address the complex legacy of the area’s maritime heritage embodied in the Deptford Town Hall statues.”
The college’s decision echoes the Government’s policy to “retain and explain” potentially controversial monuments and similar decisions have been made by the Museum of the Home in Shoreditch and the City Corporation over statues linked to slavery.