Culture

Public vote looms on future of ‘controversial’ HM Stanley statue

08 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
H M Stanley statue in Denbigh. Picture by Jeff Buck (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A public vote is set to be held on the future of a statue of the “controversial” explorer HM Stanley in Denbigh.

Denbigh Town Council has announced residents will get the chance to have their say at the ballot box on October 15 and 16.

The statue, which was fashioned in bronze by artist Nick Elphick, has been the subject of a furious debate following Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020, with activists calling for it to be removed.

The piece was commissioned by the town council, and in June 2020 its members voted 6-5 to keep it in lieu of a public consultation on whether to retain it long-term or remove it.

The timing of the consultation had been delayed because of the Covid-19 crisis.

A statement from Denbigh Town Council read: “Due to the mass coverage of public statues of controversial historical figures last year the town council decided the decision whether the statue of H M Stanley remain or be removed, be the decision of the residents of Denbigh.

“Voting will take place in the Town Hall over two days. Friday October 15 between 10am and 7pm or Saturday October 16 between 10am and 1pm.

“Voting will be open to Denbigh residents aged 16 and above. You will need two forms of identification. One photo identification and one with your address on.

“If you are unable to attend or know of someone who can’t attend, please phone or text 07554679169 or email hmstanleystatue@mail.com by October 14th and we will arrange an alternative way to vote. If you are aged between 16 and 18 and are having difficulty in getting two forms of identification please get in touch.

‘Born’ 

HM Stanley, was born John Rowlands, started life fatherless in Denbigh in 1841. He was put into the Asaph workhouse in nearby St Asaph.

As a teenager he emigrated to the United States as a teenager, where he fought in the American Civil war, became a journalist and then a an explorer of note.

He found the source of the Nile, mapping central Africa’s Great Lakes and also the borders of the present day Democratic Republic of Congo.

Stanley is controversial and polarising figure because and of his alleged mistreatment of indigenous workers and guides, and because of his links with Belgian King Leopold II, for whom he worked for a time

The monarch committed acts of appalling inhumanity against the population of the Congo Free State – now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and exploited the country’s natural resources, enriching himself in the process.

Stanley’s supporters claimed the explorer was not working for the Belgian despot when the atrocities occurred and he has been unfairly tainted.

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GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 month ago

Basically he was a genocidal maniac who worked for another genocidal maniac. Tear it down. A-holes like him don’t deserve a statue.

Keith Gogarth
Keith Gogarth
1 month ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

BS

Keith Gogarth
Keith Gogarth
1 month ago

Explored Central Africa. Searched for Livingstone Navigated the River Congo. Regarded as one of the leading 19th century explorers Chartered the Rowanzori Range and Lake Edward. Hired by King Leopold of Belgium to construct a series of trading posts. Treaties that Stanley had made with Tribal chiefs were cancelled by Leopold. Stanley was shocked by this. Allegations that he used modern weaponry to develop trading posts has been disproved by missionary evidence. Kinshasa founded. Witnessed the murder of hundreds of slaves and suggested that Leopold take hold of more territory to prevent such future atrocities. On seeing 2300 captives held… Read more »

Jonathan Gwyn Mendus Edwards
Jonathan Gwyn Mendus Edwards
1 month ago

“mass coverage of public statues of controversial historical figures last year the town council decided….” Flawed for 2 reasons. (1) BLM was a weird American import having no relevance to Wales and involved rioting and looting. Luckily it fizzled out. Last year. (2) No historical figure is perfect, but hard to see what was wrong with HMS. Keith G makes the case for him. Picton more dodgy, clearly. But please stop cancel culture and “emotional spasm” (A.Bevan)

Dafydd
Dafydd
1 month ago

It isn’t cancel culture, mate. It’s looking at what happened and just because “it was acceptable then” doesn’t mean we should celebrate it any further. Stop it. Many knew and spoke out that such things were wrong back then so it is not as though”they didn’t know” or “it was normal”. This cancel culture thing you mention is actually just not praising total scum any longer.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

I am so glad to hear that there has been no prejudice in Wales, for BLM to have “no relevance ” in our country.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

It should be up to Councillors to identify options for the statue and assess those options through consultation with residents. It seems from the Council’s website that the vote is a binary and divisive one either the statue remains or is removed. There might well be those who vote either way who would prefer the statue to be on display but presented to the public in a different way and or location than it is now. The vote councillors have set up looks like an abdication of responsibility on their part to me so they can pass the buck on… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Melted down it could make a nice statue of Owain Glyndwr.

Slotter Thomas
Slotter Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  Quornby

Or Twm or Nsnt

Grayham Jones
1 month ago

We don’t want English Statutes in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 only welsh people we in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Anthony
Anthony
1 month ago

Please Stop Cancel Culture!
Don’t you dare to start the Culture Revolution here in Wales! All the communist countries did that before and it took them at least 10 -20 years to kind of “recover”.
The price is too high and we can’t let these vulture like politicians/opportunists to wipe out our history and identity!

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