Cassland Road Gardens set to be renamed following review into the naming of public spaces
Cassland Road Gardens will be renamed by local residents as one of the first actions from Hackney Council’s review into the naming of local landmarks, buildings and public spaces.
The review is being led by a community steering group - made up of local cultural historians, community leaders, young people and other residents - established when the Mayor of Hackney launched the review, to ensure the borough’s parks and public spaces reflect the borough’s diverse communities.
The Steering Group are set to share further recommendations next month.
Renaming nearby roads, also named after Sir John Cass, is not part of this initial recommendation, but residents living in these roads will be invited to share their thoughts about the renaming of the gardens, as well as taking part in the wider review.
I’m grateful to the Steering Group for their time and commitment to this vital work. In a short space of time they’ve really helped us to focus our thoughts. This isn’t an easy process, and should not be rushed. The decisions we make now will affect people’s experiences of our public spaces for generations to come, so we want to make sure that we involve the community in meaningful discussions.
Following their initial feedback, the first thing we’ll be looking at is the renaming of Cassland Road Gardens, which was named after Sir John Cass, who was a Director of the Royal African Company, making substantial profit from the enslavement of African people. I’m pleased to confirm that we will start this process, with local residents, in the coming months. We welcome the work of the nearby Sir John Cass Foundation, who have already committed to changing their name and their halls of residence.
This work follows a proud tradition which has seen Hackney residents and councillors over the years make great strides in naming our public spaces and buildings after figures who mean something positive to our communities. From council buildings such as Nelson Mandela House and Maurice Bishop House to Lovelace Street, Mary Seacole Close and Sojourner Truth Close - our borough is a fascinating map of inspirational figures - but it’s not enough. I’m excited about what’s to come, and look forward to continuing to work with the steering group on this really important work.
I have found working with the renaming taskforce a genuine process committed to delivering meaningful change. Listening and learning with a multigenerational, multiethnic selection of talented people, all committed to delivering solutions instead of empty fancy talk has given me hope that once this process is finished, Hackney will have a working democratic process for sharing antiracist values in symbolic and systematic form. That’s progress.
The immoral celebration of the Cassland name in Hackney is an issue that has stood for almost 200 years. It is time we are unapologetic about ensuring our borough's public realm celebrates values of peace, equal rights and resistance to injustice, not toxic history that glorifies historic violence.