The Black Boy pubs in Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury to be renamed due to 'racist' connotations - with public set to choose their new names
The pubs giant is to hold an online public vote so communities can pick a new name for the historic pubs from a list of suggestions.
The decision to change the name follows consultation with stakeholders and researching the pubs’ histories, plus consulting with the tenants of both pubs.
Nick Mackenzie, Greene King CEO, said while the origins of the name 'is obscure, there is a perception that it is linked with racism'.
He acknowledged the move 'will attract a range of views'.
Mark Eames, who runs the Black Boy in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Now is the right time to make this change and I look forward to the new name continuing to reflect the heritage and history of this pub which has been a part of Bury St Edmunds for hundreds of years.”
Katie Martin, of the Black Boy in Sudbury, said: "I’m happy to work alongside Greene King to proactively eradicate racism. I’m keen to work with the people of Sudbury to choose a new name for this great pub and hotel that does not attract the same concern and questions as the current name.
“As a society, we need to work together to be fully inclusive in all aspects of life and business, and I feel a change of name would help make sure everyone feels included and welcome when they visit my historical pub and hotel.”
Greene King said that while the pub name ‘Black Boy’ exists throughout the country, 'there is not a consensus on its origins and many of those consulted felt the name to be offensive and discriminatory'.
Mr Mackenzie said: “It is important to acknowledge our history but just as important to work proactively to eradicate racism in our society today.
We know this is a decision that will attract a range of views and we’re conscious of the history and heritage of pub names - Nick Mackenzie
"We have looked at pub deeds, consulted with colleagues and while the origins of this pub name is obscure what is clear is that there is a perception that it is linked with racism today and we want to make this positive change for the better.
"We know this is a decision that will attract a range of views and we’re conscious of the history and heritage of pub names.
"We’ve thought long and hard and feel this is the right thing to do as it is incredibly important to us that our pubs are warm and welcoming places for everyone as we continue on our journey to become a truly anti-racist organisation.
"We’re keen to involve local people in this project and look forward to working with them to choose a new and inclusive name for these pubs so they remain at the heart of communities."
The renaming of these pubs is part of Greene King’s inclusion and diversity strategy to champion equality and diversity within the company and increase support for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
In 2020, Greene King pledged to invest in initiatives to support more young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to begin a career in hospitality.
Last August, Greene King strengthened its partnership with the Prince’s Trust with a new five-year agreement, increasing funding by a third and pledging to create 1,000 opportunities for young people and an increased financial commitment to the charity linked to the diversity aims.
An employee-led group called Unity has also been created that represents Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and is formed from representatives across Greene King with the aim of creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Last October also saw the launch of a year-long partnership between Greene King and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool to raise awareness and educate about the historic transatlantic slave trade.
Greene King is also looking to rename one other pub called The Black Boy in Shinfield, near Reading, as well as a pub called The Blacks Head in Wirksworth.