Woke Lancaster students demand The Sugarhouse Nightclub change its name due to links to city’s slave trade
- Sugarhouse Nightclub is located on Sugarhouse Alley and run by student union
- But undergrads think it should be renamed over ‘vicious atrocities’ in slave trade
- A petition has been set up and needs around 320 signatures to be considered
Students are petitioning for a nightclub named after its’ location to change its name – over associations to the city’s slave trade.
The Sugarhouse Nightclub is located on Sugarhouse Alley in Lancaster and is run by Lancaster University’s Student Union.
But undergrads think it should be renamed to ‘ensure that vicious atrocities are not normalised or celebrated’.
The stretch is so called after a city sugarhouse, which had provided funds the local economy and many of the buildings in the area.
But academics have pointed out its contents would have come from slave labour.
A petition has been set up and needs around 320 signatures to be considered, but currently has just shy of 200.
The Sugarhouse Nightclub is located on Sugarhouse Alley in Lancaster, Lancashire
The New Bridge at Lancaster, circa 1800, the time when the actual sugarhouse was running
Professor Alan Rice, Director of the UCLan Research Centre in Migration, Diaspora and Exile helped to provide some background information to the petition’s organisers about the name’s links with slavery.
He said: ‘It was named to celebrate a Lancaster history of wealth and industry.
‘The sugarhouse has got a really important place in Lancaster’s history.
‘But it was done without thinking about the fact that that history led to the exploitation of enslaved African people in the Caribbean.
‘Every bit of sugar that came to that sugarhouse comes from slave labour.’
He explained that ‘the naming of The Sugarhouse talks to a whole group of Lancaster merchants who made their money out of the exploitation of people both in Lancaster, but mainly in the Caribbean in slave labour.
The petition says slavery link to the area is undeniable and must be remembered appropriately
‘It wasn’t that it was intentionally named after that, it’s the implications of the naming – that people haven’t thought about that history.’
Prof Rice said people must ‘think’ and neglecting to acknowledge the name’s links to a dark past, other more positive elements of Lancaster’s history or being ignored – and ‘cancels the histories of oppressed people.’
The petition states: ‘The link between Lancaster, the Transatlantic slave trade and the West Indies is undeniable.
‘Our aim is not to change or erase history, but to ensure that vicious atrocities are not normalised or celebrated, but, instead, REMEMBERED in the appropriate way.
‘Comments regarding the celebration of such history further prove the importance of an implementation of an educational programme regarding the Sugarhouse alongside the name change.
‘Failing to educate students regarding this will only lead to further misinformed comments being made and that by not appropriately acknowledging the history at all, we are surely CONTRIBUTING to its gradual erasure.’
A spokesperson for Lancaster University said: ‘The petitions and papers being brought forward by students are continuously being considered by the Students’ Union and if it meets the required thresholds, our intentions are to continue these conversations with all stakeholders and embed it into our long term strategy.’
Regarding changing the name of the street, a spokesperson for Lancaster City Council said ‘We would be very happy to work with any organisations that wish to…examine the area’s connections to slavery and find ways to decolonise our history.’
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