Road named after general who put down Revolt of 1857, could be renamed ‘Guru Nanak Marg’
Havelock Road in Southall is named after Sir Henry Havelock who is widely considered a military visionary for his systematic dismantling of the Revolt of 1857.Updated: Jun 11, 2020 07:35 IST
A road in West London, named after the British Army general who ruthlessly put down the could be renamed after the founder of Sikhism as part of a wider push to recognize the UK’s diversity and address the more pernicious aspects of Britain’s colonial past.
Havelock Road in Southall is named after Sir Henry Havelock who is widely considered a military visionary for his systematic dismantling of the Revolt of 1857, also known as first Indian war of Independence from the rapacious rule of the East India Company.
On Tuesday it was revealed that a consultation is underway which could lead to road being renamed Guru Nanak Road.
Southall is home to a large Sikh community and Havelock Road is home to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha, which is considered the largest Gurdwara in the world outside India.
The consultation is part of a wider process, launched this week by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, to re-evaluate memorials - including statues and public spaces - that commemorate British colonialism sparked by the global Black Lives Matter protests.
Several statues of British slave traders have been removed in the UK whilst protestors defaced a statue of Winston Churchill - revered by some for his role in defeating Nazism and reviled by others for his part in tragedies such as the Bengal Famine of the early 1940’s as well as his opposition to Indian independence.
In a video message to residents of the area, Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council said he welcomed the Mayor’s initiative to represent London’s diversity.
“I welcome the Mayor’s announcement today of a review of our public spaces across the city to make sure that they do represent London as it is today. Our diversity is our strength and we need to make sure that our public realm, our statues, our road names, our buildings, reflect our diversity and do not reflect a frozen past where colonialism, racism and the slave trade were present and celebrated,” Bell said.
The change of names will “symbolise the huge contribution of our Sikh community in Ealing and also diversity as a borough, and also it will represent our unity as a borough too”, he added.
The move was also welcomed by the long-standing MP for the area Virendra Sharma.
“As the Member of Parliament for Ealing Southall and a Councillor for 25 years before that I have often been ashamed the names of empire still pervade our streets. I have long campaigned for schools to teach more about our Imperial past, not just the great strides made but also the shameful thuggery and violence, names like Havelock belong in books, classrooms and museums, not on the streets to be celebrated,” Sharma said.
“The community should come together to decide how we rename this road, but celebrating Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his 550th anniversary, and erasing a white man who killed Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, would be a sign of our multiculturalism and our diversity,” he added. ‘a sign of our multiculturalism’: UK’s Havelock Road, named after general who dismantled India’s first war for Independence, to be renamed Guru Nanak Marg
A consultation to rename Havelock road will begin “very shortly”, according to Councillor Bell.