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Tulse Hill could be renamed due to slavery links

The South London area of Tulse Hill, with a population of 15,500 could be renamed due to its namesake’s historic connections to slavery.

The Lambeth district was named after 17th-century merchant Sir Henry Tulse, who served as Lord Mayor of London in 1684. His family’s wealth was largely created through the slave trade.

We have learnt more about our past

Lambeth Council has begun to consult with local residents through their ‘community listening survey’ to ask whether the area should be renamed. They also ask if it should have information displayed to explain its history or whether an education programme should be launched in schools.

The Council is also considering the option of doing nothing and keeping the name.

A council spokesman said that it had worked closely with local communities following the 2020
Black Lives Matter as part of their efforts to tackle racism.

They said: “In the wake of the Black Lives Matter campaign in 2020 we worked with our communities to see if there are local locations with possible links to the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism.

“What followed is an educational piece of local history research work of the kind that our valued local library archives routinely undertake. There are no plans to rename Tulse Hill, or any other site in the borough, but as a community we have learnt more about our past by holding these conversations.

“This includes highlighting that Tulse Hill is named after the Tulse family, which possibly included Sir Henry Tulse, whose wealth came from profits from the slave trade.

“Lambeth is a richly diverse borough, and the council has been a pioneer since the 1980s for naming new places and new buildings to reflect local people. This latest piece of work required no extra spending, and has taken government legislation on the issue fully into account.”

Lambeth is the latest London council to launch a review of place names. London Mayor, Sadiq Khan offered £25,000 grants to Londoners last year to “decolonise” their street names.

Self Doubt

At the recent Conservative Party Spring Conference, Equalities Minister Liz Truss confronted what she termed “the culture of self-doubt.”

At the gathering in Blackpool, she said “Now is the time to end the culture of self-doubt, the constant self-questioning and introspection, the ludicrous debates about language, statues and pronouns.

“Our history, warts and all, makes us what we are today.

“We live in a great country, a great democracy and we should be proud of it.”

Final thought

The renaming of Tulse Hill will reopen questions around the UK’s history and links to slavery. This is right and proper. In time, it may lead to local residents deciding to rename their area to better reflect their value, or leave it as it is as a reminder of an ugly past. Both positions have their merits.

Stories about the discomfort of living in a multi racial society built from a massive empire serve three groups of people. Left wing politicians looking to secure the votes of ethnic minorities, right wing politicians looking to dog-whistle to those who are not happy in a racially equal society and journalists (and website writers) who can use the conflict to generate clicks and revenue.

No one outside Tulse Hill should mind if it’s residents want to rename it. Beware of those who would stoke fires around symbols and before you get angry, ask yourself, who benefits from my anger?

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