THE company that owns the Black Boy in Headington has said it will not change the name of the pub because it wants to preserve its history.

Everards hit back after claims on social media that the name is ‘outdated’ and makes black people feel ‘alienated’.

The company also pointed out that the current managers – who do not choose the name and are tenants, not owners – have been helping the community during the coronavirus crisis by running a takeaway service and local shop.

They even stocked toilet rolls and the Oxford Mail, when lockdown was at its peak 

One man took to the private Oxford Community group on Facebook this week to say: “I’ve driven past ‘The Black Boy’ pub countless times, and have always wondered why a pub would have this name.

“I did my research and seen that there is a racehourse with that name, totally understand.

“But in this day and age with a multicultural setting, I wouldn’t describe it as appropriate.

“I’m a black man, and I have never been inside all because of the thought of feel[ing] comfortable inside a building called ‘The Black Boy’. Would any white men feel comfortable going to a place called ‘The White Boy’?”

He continued: “I’m not being passive aggressive. And I want to make it clear that I don’t know the owners so can’t describe them as people and have no negativity towards their lively hood.”

As it happened: The Oxford protesters calling for Cecil Rhodes statue to be pulled down

The post sparked a lengthy debate with more than 850 people weighing in.

One woman called for the owners to change the name, saying: “Good point and I completely agree. I wish they would change it and they should if it makes black people uncomfortable to go in. Doesn’t make sense on any level, not good commercially either.”

Another person added: “It has always made me uncomfortable too. It should be changed – I’m sure it puts lots of people off.”

A lot of people speculated over the history of the inn’s name – some saying it refers to a darker time in history when black people were used as slaves, and others saying it could have been innocently named after chimney sweepers or a race horse.

On Facebook, one woman said she thought it was the latter, but said: “In this day and age though I think they should consider changing the name.”

Headington News notes that when the pub was rebuilt in 1937 it was made with a statue of a black servant in a cove above the entrance.

Oxford Mail:

A picture from the archives of the statue 

On its website it says: “This was smashed in 1990 and was replaced by the painting of a chimney-sweep’s boy, which was arguably more politically correct.

“Even so in 1997 there was an unsuccessful attempt by Oxford students to get the pub’s name changed on the grounds it was offensive.”

Oxford Mail:

The painting, from Headington News. 

A lot of pubs called The Black Boy are named after King Charles II, who died in 1685. When he was born he was lovingly dubbed ‘the black boy’ because of his stark resemblance to his Italian grandma with dark brown eyes, black hair and darker skin.

The debate was sparked this week after Black Lives Matter protests across the US, the UK and in Oxford, and a renewed campaign calling on Oriel College, Oxford, to pull down its statue of imperialist and South African politician Cecil Rhodes, based on the accusation he was a racist.

Oxford Mail:

Read more: 15 pictures from the protest

However, on Facebook, others said they weren’t fussed about the history of the Black Boy, as long as the service was good.

One man said: “I don’t care what the pub is called as long as it’s got good food and decent atmosphere it shouldn’t matter what it is called.”

A spokesperson at Everards, which has owned The Black Boy building since 2013 and leases it out, said: “It’s a 16th century pub which was rebuilt in the 1930s and therefore is an important part of the local story.

“We understand that the pub has been called The Black Boy since at least 1805 and wherever possible we prefer to keep each pub’s history alive and retain the original name.

“More recently, the pub has brought in the horse imagery connected to the name through a local rhyme and this features on the signage as well as inside the pub.”