‘Just use the Welsh’ suggested as solution to Nelson village name’s ‘slave trade’ connections
The name of a village in the county borough of Caerphilly is under scrutiny after appearing in a ‘dossier of problematic place names’ following an audit of suspect slavery links.
In a move slammed as ”absolutely absurd” the village of Nelson, five miles north of Caerphilly, has been included in the audit because its namesake Horatio Nelson, the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar, was said to be opposed to the abolition of slavery.
However, some have suggested that the village could simply use its original Welsh language name, Ffos y Gerddinen, instead.
Meirion MacIntyre Huws, who has been appointed as the person responsible for protecting indigenous place names in Gwynedd in the north, said that the name Nelson was a later addition to the area.
“The location that was on the drovers’ route is known as Ffos y Gerddinen,” he said. “‘Nelson’ was a public house built during the Trafalgar war (they say).
“As a result of the growth of the coal industry, the village grew around the pub until the whole village was recognized as ‘Nelson’.”
Responding to a story on the matter in the Telegraph, translator and Golwg columnist Cris Dafis said “Much better, for so many reasons, to use the original Welsh, Ffos y Gerddinen.”
Frank Sobotka added that it was “important to remember that Nelson in Caerphilly already has another name, so could just use that?”
‘Should remain Nelson’
The Welsh Government is undertaking an audit of places and streets named after historical figures who are deemed to have some form of culpability or association with the slave trade. They have asked all councils across Wales to provide data.
Using a traffic light system of red to green, Lord Nelson falls into the amber category relating to his ‘ambiguous blames’ for the slave trade.
Lord Nelson, hailed as a national hero after being killed aboard HMS Victory in 1805, is among the historical figures listed in the dossier because they “opposed abolition of the slave trade or slavery”.
Others however were keen to retain the English name. Welsh Conservative Member of Senedd Natasha Asghar branded the dossier “absolutely absurd”, telling the Telegraph newspaper: “The village was named after its pub The Nelson, and not because of potential links to Lord Nelson. To slander an entire village in this way is outrageous.
“Sadly, this is just another example of political correctness going too far, and it is high time we stop pandering to the woke left. I hope it has dawned on officers at Caerphilly Council just how ridiculous this really is, and that the village of Nelson should remain Nelson.”
Simon Hart, the Secretary of State for Wales, said: “I imagine the residents of Nelson will have plenty to say. From what I’ve heard they are totally nonplussed that the Welsh government and Caerphilly Council are focusing on this rather than local jobs.”
Nelson has a population of 4,600 and grew up around the railway station and the local 19th century pub, which is said to have taken its name when Nelson and Emma, Lady Hamilton broke their journey from Cardiff to Merthyr in 1800 and spent the night there.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, Lord Nelson’s legacy was reassessed, with some claiming that he supported slavery and defended the institution by maintaining Britain’s naval supremacy.
Caerphilly launched its review of people, streets, monuments and buildings in the wake of protests directed against public commemorations of those accused of historic crimes, responding to the national request for data from the Welsh Government.
Despite the council noting that the village’s name was not an ‘intentional commemoration of Nelson’ it has been included on the list of sites linked to slavery.
Other ‘suspects’ in the borough include a park name after Winston Churchill and streets named after Thomas Picton.
Documents also note that a street has been named after William Gladstone, whose reputation has been challenged due to claims that his father received compensation as a result of abolition.
Caerphilly Council said: “We are keen to set the record straight on this matter as the audit was initiated by Welsh Government, not Caerphilly council.
“The Welsh Government document contains references to hundreds of streets, buildings and other locations that are named after historical figures across the whole of Wales, so we are not sure why the village of Nelson has been unfairly singled out in the press.”