Probe is launched to find out if Hammersmith and Fulham council’s coat of arms is racist

Slave vessel or Viking warship? Probe is launched to find out if Hammersmith and Fulham council’s coat of arms is racist because it features a black ship

  • Hammersmith and Fulham council’s coat of arms features a black ship
  • The Labour-run council will investigate whether it has racist connotations
  • Thought a horseshoe symbol could commemorate a 17th-century slave trader

A coat of arms featuring a black sailing ship could be changed if a probe discovers it depicts a slave vessel, a council has revealed.

Hammersmith and Fulham council’s coat of arms depicts the arrival of Vikings in the borough in 879AD – but some fear it could actually represent a slave ship. 

And those behind the probe suggested a horseshoe symbol on the coat of arms could have links to a 17th-century slave trader who lived locally, the Sun reported.

The Labour-run authority in West London will have all statues, plaques, monuments and street names within its boundary examined by experts for traces of anything seen to celebrate Britain’s connections to the slave trade.

Hammersmith and Fulham council’s coat of arms (pictured) commemorates the arrival of Viking ships in the borough in 879AD – but some fear it could actually represent a slave vessel

Engraving of a Viking ship. The black ship is thought to reference the arrival of the Vikings

Pictured, a former slave ship sinking in Massachusetts in 1717. If the coat of arms is found to reference the slave trade the council may decide to change it

A source said: ‘If they find something offensive, which absolutely no one noticed, they’ll have to spend public money changing the crest wherever it appears.’

Slaves, rape and slaughter: The Vikings’ chequered history

Even if the black ship in Hammersmith and Fulham council’s coat of arms is in reference to the arrival of the Vikings, the nordic group had its own slave trade.

The Vikings weren’t without a chequered history. The seafarers were known for pillaging, gruesome battles and the rape of both men and women.

Historic accounts found the Scandinavian warriors held thousands of men, women and children captive or sold them as slaves, which they called thralls.

It comes after London Mayor Sadiq Khan unveiled his diversity commission, which will investigate the city’s statues and road names.

The homepage of the commission notes that London’s statues, plaques and street names ‘largely reflect a bygone era’ and it seeks to improve diversity in public spaces.  

It prompted a colourful response from patrician Jacob Rees-Mogg, who branded the mayor ‘Red Khan’.

The Commons Leader said councils should be responsible for naming streets, with the MP for North East Somerset advising Sadiq Khan to not ‘interfere in things that aren’t his responsibility’.

‘Who would have thought that you’d have a more left-wing leader of London than Ken Livingstone? And now we do, and Red Khan is he,’ Mr Rees-Mogg told the Commons.

‘It is quite wrong that these loony left-wing wheezes should be inflicted upon our great metropolis, and I think the mayor in his zeal is potentially treading on the toes of councils anyway – that councils have the right to name streets, by and large, not the Mayor of London, and I don’t think he should interfere in things that aren’t his responsibility.

The Blacks Head (pictured) in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was given a new name – despite locals insisting the name comes from a bottle of ginger beer

‘As I was saying on the honours list, we should celebrate and glory in our wonderful history and in the great heroes of our nation going back over centuries.’ 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the City of London risks damaging its ‘rich history’ if it goes through with a BLM-inspired bid to topple two statues. 

Greene King has already renamed four of its pubs over fears the moniker The Black Boy had ‘racist’ connotations – sparking outrage on social media over the ‘woke’ move.

Three pubs called The Black Boy – in Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury in Suffolk, and Shinfield in Berkshire – and another called The Black’s Head in Wirksworth, Derbyshire were renamed following the controversy. 

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