Council set to call for removal of Blackboy clock and statue in Stroud

An 18th Century clock has been largely condemned in a public survey

A historic clock and statue could soon be removed from Stroud as it causes "pain and offence".

Almost 80% of people who responded to a public survey about the Blackboy clock said it should be taken down.

Instead, the 18th Century clock should be put on display in a museum, according to 59% of respondents.

The survey also found that respondents felt Stroud District Council should work to rename Blackboy House, where the clock currently resides, and review the street name 'Blackboys' in nearby Dursley.

The public consultation was launched by the council in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests which took place in the summer of 2020.

What did the consultation recommend?

Stroud District Council says the consultation recommended that the council:

  • Work with the owners of the statue and the clock to ensure its removal and rename Blackboy House

  • Offer the clock and the statue to The Museum in the Park collection

  • Review the street name 'Blackboys' in Dursley

  • Progress plans for the restoration of the Anti-Slavery Arch, Paganhill and a task force to contextualise the statue

  • Oversee the installation of an information plaque outside Blackboy House

  • Develop a community project for the commemoration of an individual, a group or event, as suggested by respondents

  • Review its street naming protocol to ensure names that "may be construed as discriminatory or offensive under the Equality Act 2010" or "not in the spirit of this act" will not be considered

  • Ensure it's culture strategy should "empower communities and individuals to celebrate and share their history, heritage, culture and identity [and] focus on increasing representation of Black, Asian and Ethnically diverse communities as well as those from a range of social and economic backgrounds"

The public consultation found the statue causes 'pain and offence' to people living in Stroud.

A spokesperson for the council said: "The day after the Edward Colston statue was toppled into Bristol Harbour on 7 June 2020, all four Stroud District Council political group leaders issued a joint statement reaffirming the council’s commitment to promoting equality and tackling discrimination".

They said this led to actions being outlined "including consulting on any street and building names, statues and architectural features that may be considered offensive".

Doina Cornell, leader of Stroud District Council, said: “This review was undertaken in response to the rightful challenge posed to us all by the Black Lives Matter movement and by local residents, to tackle systemic racism.”

"Stroud District Council established a Review Panel to undertake a public consultation and review of streets, statues and monuments across the district including Blackboy Statue as part of this review.

The consultation has also recommended that Blackboy House be renamed as well.

“Academics and historians were invited to be part of a Review Panel and three community representatives were recruited through an open application process.

"The Review Panel carefully researched, analysed, and debated evidence on the origins of the Blackboy Clock and Statue. As well as this, the Panel received and considered more than 1600 responses to a public consultation which ran from Wednesday 7 July 2021 to Wednesday 1 September 2021."

What is the Blackboy clock and statue?

The council says its panel found the clock dates back to 1774 and is an "unusual example" of a Jacquemart clock, designed by John Miles.

It was originally set up on the front of Miles' shop in Kendrick Street before being moved to the Duke of York pub in Nelson Street, before finally being placed on Blackboy House, which was at the time the National School for Girls.

Blackboy House has been listed as a Grade II building since 1974 and is owned by Blackboy House Management Company Limited, but the clock and statue are owned by The Blackboy Clock Trust.

What did the survey find?

The key findings from the survey were:

  • 79% of respondents felt the statue should be removed

  • 59% felt the statue should be placed in a museum

  • 22% felt the statue should remain where it is

A spokesperson for the council said: "The survey responses made clear that the statue causes pain and offence but it should not be hidden from the public."

Instead, they said the consultation showed it should be "put in a place where an interpretation can be provided, providing learning and education so that we can continue to challenge what is no longer acceptable, provoke thinking and to demonstrate that change is needed."

The council says it is working with the family who oversee The Blackboy Clock Trust but are "unable to comment" further.

“Any removal would need Listed Building Consent, and under new national regulations, if a council intends to grant LBC and Historic England objects, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will make a final decision," they added.

Council Leader Doina Cornell added: “This review was undertaken in response to the rightful challenge posed to us all by the Black Lives Matter movement and by local residents, to tackle systemic racism, and is part of a wider piece of work that the council has undertaken.

"I'm grateful to the panel for all the work they've put into this and how they have ensured that their recommendations reflect our community's views as to what next steps are needed.”

Stroud District Council will consider the report at a full council meeting on Thursday, 28 April.