Ashbourne Lib Dem Councillor speaks out about 'that pub sign'

June 12, 2020 8:48 PM
By Robert Archer

Rob Archer (Peter Dobbs)

Cllr Rob Archer

While I appreciate that 'The Black's Head' sign is part of Ashbourne's history the unfortunate truth is that it can no longer be considered as appropriate for it to be displayed in the heart of our fantastic town. Ashbourne has so much to be proud of, from its long and fascinating history to its striking Georgian architecture and the glorious surrounding countryside of the Derbyshire Dales and yet, unfortunately it is also now known for being the town that boasts a caricature style black man's head as one of its main landmarks.

While I fully recognise that this carved head is part of the town's history and many people in Ashbourne are fond of it, I and many others believe that it is no longer appropriate to have a sign such as this on full public display in the heart of the town (something that the level of support for the petition to have it removed would seem to suggest). The sign may not have been originally created for racist reasons and I do not believe the people who are fond of it are racist, however its crude style bears such a striking resemblance to the caricatures produced by the oppressive regimes of Jim Crow and Apartheid to de-humanise black people that there can be no doubt that it is a representation of racism.

The District Council's decision to remove it to allow time for reflection and debate was the correct one and it is unfortunate that a small group of residents decided to take things into their own hands and remove it themselves, seemingly to prevent it falling into the Council's hands. I firmly believe that the majority of people in Ashbourne would on reflection agree on the need for its removal and re-appraisal. I hope that the future of the head can be decided with the help of the council in an appropriate manner, that allows all residents to have their say.

The black man's head was part of the sign for a historic pub 'The Green Man and Black's Head' and I believe the best solution would be for the head to preserved in a museum and replaced by a carving of the legendary green man which far better represents Ashbourne as a place full of character and life and surrounded by outstanding natural beauty.

Councillor Robert Archer (Liberal Democrat Member for Ashbourne South)