Plans for information board explaining Sir Francis Drake’s slavery links submitted

Calls have been made to remove the statue because of Drake's links to the slave trade (a picture of a Sir Francis Drake statue). Credit:

Plans to install an information board next to a statue of Sir Francis Drake in Tavistock outlining the explorer's links to slavery have been submitted.

Calls were made and rejected last year to remove the statue of Drake on the roundabout in Plymouth Road due to his involvement in the slave trade.

Tavistock Town Council said at the time they had no plans to remove the statue, but said more should be done to portray his whole history.

The local authority has since passed a motion to install an interpretation board or plaque - explaining the explorer’s links to the slave trade - and submitted their plans to West Devon Borough Council.

The proposed information board. Credit: LDRS

The board would be located opposite the statue and include details of his heroism for being the first Englishman to sail right around the world and defending England from the Spanish Armada, but that he was also involved in several horrific slave-trading expeditions.

A statement submitted with the planning application explained: “An information sign providing both visual as well as written history is proposed, and its position opposite the statue provides context as well as particularly detailed information on the Statue itself.

“The sign is to be in colour with a QR code to allow access to further website information, and there is no negative impact on the Conservation area or the Statue opposite.

"The sign is a pedestrian information point, so given its size, typeset heights etc, its impact on vehicle users will be negligible as it is clearly not a road user information/ speed sign.”

The proposed location for the board. Credit: LDRS

What will the board say?

The proposed signage would say: “Sir Francis Drake was a famous Tudor mariner. His life story is full of contrasts.

"He was seen as a hero for being the first Englishman to sail right around the world, and he played a major role in defending England from the Spanish Armada.

"But he was also involved in several horrific slave-trading expeditions. Furthermore, as a privateer, he looted and plundered Spanish towns and ships in Europe and throughout their Empire in the Americas.”

It would also share more details of his role in the slave trade, as a privateer, his circumnavigation of the globe, the victory over the Spanish Armada, a timeline of Drake’s life, as well as the statue itself.

The application added: “In 2020, following a campaign to remove this statue of Sir Francis Drake, Tavistock Town Council – in partnership with Tavistock Heritage Trust – decided to provide some missing information about his life.”

The move is part of a wider education programme to give context to his deeds in Elizabethan times following Black Lives Matter protests.

West Devon Borough Council planners will consider the application at a later date.

Credit: Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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