The Ealing Council is preparing to rename Havelock Road – named after Henry Havelock, general in the colonial army involved in suppressing the 1857 Uprising in India – as Guru Nanak Road, as London reviews public spaces following the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.
The Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha is located on Havelock Road in Southall, which has long had a significant presence of people of Indian origin. Its MP, senior Labour leader Virendra Sharma, welcomed the council’s decision.
He said: “I welcome the decision by Ealing Council to finally rename Havelock Road – decolonising our streets. 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”.
“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.
London mayor Sadiq Khan (Labour) this week called for a review of statues and other public spaces in the capital following growing protests in the UK linked to the killing of George Floyd in the US. Some statues of individuals historically linked to slave trade have been removed.
Julian Bell, leader of the Labour-controlled Ealing council, said in a video message to residents that he welcomed Khan’s plans to look at how public spaces in London represent the city in the present day.
He said: “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.”
“Havelock Road is where the largest Sikh gurdwara in western Europe is cited and as part of its 550-year celebrations of the birth of Guru Nanak this year, we want to make this name change to Havelock Road to Guru Nanak Road”.
“This 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.