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Camden Council is asked again to change name of Cecil Rhodes House

Demonstrators demand statue comes down at Oxford University as council here faces questions about housing block

09 June, 2020 — By Tom Foot

A COUNCIL housing estate named after one of the “architects of Apartheid” should be renamed, campaigners and politicians are demanding.

A spotlight has once again fallen on Cecil Rhodes House following the Black Lives Matter protests and the toppling of the slave trader Colston’s statue in Bristol.

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign is tonight (Tuesday) demonstrating at Oxford University with calls for a statue of Rhodes to be removed.

Somers Town ward councillor Roger Robinson, a former mayor of Camden, told the New Journal: “I have asked many times since I was elected to Camden Council, and have done so over the past two weeks, that Camden Council should remove the name of Cecil Rhodes from the name of the estate it holds in Somers Town.

“Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman, statesman, Imperialist, and served as a Prime Minister for the Cape Colony from 1890-1896. He was an ardent believer in British Imperialism and was himself the founder of the territory of Rhodesia. He was known too as an architect of Apartheid.”

He added: “I would imagine that some sort of debate about renaming the estate would be the aim of many councillors serving on Camden Council.”

The ten-storey art deco block is part of the Goldington Street estate built in the late 1940s.

The New Journal raised questions about the name of Cecil Rhodes House in 2016, but got no meaningful response at the time from the council.

Fran Heron, from the Camden Town District Management Committee (DMC), which covers the area of the estate, said: “I would support a thorough debate on the issue that would be informative and educational. One of the few things that has been positive during the lockdown is that so many political issues are being discussed virtually and you hear views from differing perspectives.”

The TRA for the block had been dormant for many years, she added.

The Rhodes family links to the area stretch back to the mid-18th century when they purchased land then known as ‘Brill Farm’. The area spanned swathes of St Pancras and Mecklenburgh and Brunswick squares in Bloomsbury.

Cecil Rhodes’ grandfather, William, was a churchwarden at St Pancras Old Church. His tomb “and many other members of the family” were buried in the cemetery that is now St Pancras Gardens.

A memorial “re-erected by Cecil John Rhodes in 1890” remains in the Gardens today. Cecil Rhodes was buried in Zimbabwe.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for all a review of statues in the capital.

Camden Council has been contacted for comment.

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