Flintshire pub’s name changed to avoid slave trade link

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A PUB chain giant is to rename its newest venue after claims the original suggestion had links with slavery.


JD Wetherspoon was due to call its Holywell pub The Copper King when it opens on the High Street on July 19.


It was to be named after 18th century lawyer, entrepreneur and MP Thomas Williams, who made his fortune in the copper trade.


But some claimed the name also reflected Williams’ association with slavery after he sold African slaves to the West Indies and petitioned Parliament to refuse its abolition.


The pub will now be called The Market Cross.


Holywell councillor Peter Curtis said as a slave trader Williams “peddled misery”.


He said: “The Copper King was his nickname. When Parliament wanted to abolish slavery, he put his own money into a campaign to try and stop it.”

He said this was why a lot of people had been against the name as he claimed it looked like they were “celebrating slavery”.


Williams owned a copper works in Flint and manufacturing sites across the UK, including Holywell and is credited with helping to build up the town.


Cllr Curtis, a former town mayor, said slaves were brought back from trips to Africa where Williams exported copper trinkets.


He said: “They should have looked into what this name represented. What he represents was slavery and people being kept under the foot.”


Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon felt the name, The Copper King, was a suitable name for the pub, as it reflected the entrepreneurial spirit of Holywell businessman Thomas Williams.


“The company was aware that some of his copper and brass products were used in the African slave trade, however, it underestimated his involvement and we now appreciate it would not be a suitable name for the pub.


“Our research shows that Holywell became a market town in 1292, when King Edward I granted a charter to the Cistercian monks of Basingwerk Abbey for a weekly market and an annual three-day fair.


“The markets and fairs were held at the wider, lower end of High Street.


“The monks probably preached here at the Market Cross, which remained in situ until the late 19th century – around the time the indoor market was built behind the nearby town hall.”
 

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