Campaigners demand removal of Cotswold 18th-century ‘racist relic’ statue

Cancel culture slammed by radio presenter Patrick Christys

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A Grade II-listed building in the town of Stroud features a sculpture of a small boy painted black with red lips standing above a clock. The sculpture was made by a local watchmaker John Miles in 1774, and in 1844 it was moved to its current site which was once the National School for Girls.

Following the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, Artist Dan Guthrie complained about the statue to Stroud District Council.

The council is now looking into the future of the artwork above the “black boy clock”.

A report has already concluded “there is, without any doubt, an association, either directly, or indirectly, with the slave trade and colonialism, and this cannot be ignored”.

The report also found that the piece may be one of only 20 works of its kind in the UK.

Campaigners pushing for the statue’s removal have said they are not trying to “erase history”.

Mr Guthrie said to The Telegraph: “My eyes lock onto the Blackboy clock every time I turn the corner onto Castle Street.

“The boy has huge red lips and is wearing a golden leaf skirt – and he is weirdly enslaved to the clock mechanism when it’s working.

“It is an offensive racist relic from the transatlantic slave trade, and the fact that it is still up in Stroud is a mystery to me.”

Mr Guthrie has previously said the clock should not be destroyed, and instead should be placed in a museum.

Siobhan Baillie, Conservative MP for Stroud, previously dismissed calls to remove the clock.

She said in a statement: “Removing this statue or any other will not end the scourge of racism and its disappearance from our community into a museum could be counterproductive in the longer term.

“We might run the risk of future generations not understanding the journey this country has made when it comes to equal rights.

“We will always need a context – good and bad – to that journey in our public spaces if we are to understand our history, our progress and our mistakes, then reconcile to it.

“I am also concerned that a certain minority of people with loud voices have an unquenchable desire to be constantly finding things to be outraged at.”

The MP has defended her position after criticism, adding: “Any suggestion that I am trying to whip up a culture war is absolute rubbish.”

Stroud Against Racism fired back at the MP’s comments, saying it was disrespectful to constituents.

A spokesperson said: “MP disrespecting constituents focused on learning and respect, discussing appropriate contexts, asking and thinking about those it most hurts, is not listening.

“Standing with and showing solidarity with marginalised people is what decent people and communities do.

“People are seeking history and truth to be represented where the Blackboy clock is concerned.

“This necessitates discussion of where this can best happen.

“It is a degrading depiction of a Black enslaved child next to a school, looking down on the people of Stroud.”

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