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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 March 2008, 09:04 GMT
Anger over slave trader pub name
Hawkins meeting house
The pub is across the road from Plymouth Racial Equality Council
Race equality campaigners are angry after a Devon city centre pub changed its name to honour the 16th Century slave trader John Hawkins.

The Breton Arms has been renamed Hawkins Meeting House, angering the Racial Equality Council based nearby.

Hawkins was a 16th Century shipbuilder, merchant, pirate and slave trader.

The pub's owner says she is celebrating the life of the man who helped his fellow Plymothian Sir Francis Drake defeat the Spanish Armada.

SIR JOHN HAWKINS
Born Plymouth, 1535
Famed for voyages to West Africa and South America
Trades slaves in the Caribbean in 1562
Helped fight the Spanish Armada in 1588

But Sue Stratton from the Racial Equality Council (REC) said she does not believe he is someone of whom Plymouth should be proud.

"It's very unfortunate that the pub has chosen to celebrate someone who had a history of being very involved with the transatlantic slave trade and that will cause offence to anyone who understands the horrors of slavery," she said.

The pub's new owner Laura Ashenford said she was unaware that the REC was based across the road or that the organisation had been involved in celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

"This is going far too far," she said.

"If you are going to look at John Hawkins then you must also look at every single one of the historical figures who up until 200 years ago was involved in the slave trade."



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