Thomas Picton: Slave owner statue still in Cardiff City Hall a year after removal vote
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
A statue of slave owner Thomas Picton is still in City Hall in Cardiff more than a year after the council voted to remove it.
Cardiff council voted to remove the Picton statue in July last year, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and a month after a similar statue was toppled in Bristol.
Sir Thomas Picton has been celebrated as a war hero because he was the highest ranking officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo, but awareness grew recently of his role in the slave trade.
Councillors last summer said the statue was an “affront” to black people in Cardiff and was “no longer acceptable” to keep in City Hall. However the statue remains there today.
After the vote last year, carpenters put a wooden box around the statue. But as City Hall is a listed building, consent was needed from the Welsh Government before it could be removed.
Cardiff council said it received consent in March this year. Before any works can take place, a method statement is needed and a marble conservator needs to survey the condition of the statue. The council has also found a firm to carry out the removal works.
The part of City Hall containing the statue has been closed to the public since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Consent for removal’
A Cardiff council spokesperson said: “Listed building consent for removal of the Picton statue, including an assessment from Cadw, was received from the planning directorate of the Welsh Government on March 15 this year.
“This approval was subject to several conditions including that prior to the commencement of any works a method statement and a condition survey was to be undertaken by a marble conservator, and that this had to be submitted to and approved in writing by Welsh Government.
“The council has identified a suitable firm and a quote has been supplied for the statement preparation and removal works. The firm is preparing the statement for Welsh Minister approval. Once this is received, the work to remove the statue can begin.”
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It is a fine piece of sculpture and has its place in an exhibition depicting the evils of slavery and the British colonial project. Such an exhibition takes time to plan and curate. I am not bothered by the fact that this statue is boxed up in City Hall as a temporary storage solution.
PS. Why is George Thomas’s portrait still given pride of place in City Hall?
Why is George Thomas’s portrait still given pride of place in City Hall? Because he was a ‘friend of children’ and a monarchist who condoned slavery and genocide of ‘their’ subjects.
A very dodgy old goat and very much of our time too. There again the Labour regime in City Hall probably has others within it who are of the same proclivities and must not be offended.
Remove it as soon as possible, not only did he condone slavery and was very cruel as governor of Trinidad, but what did he ever do for Wales?