University College London students demand removal of Black Watch officer’s statue due to its links to ‘racially prejudiced policies’ of British colonial rule

UCL students are calling for the removal of a Black Watch officer statue because of its links to the ‘racially prejudiced policies’ of British colonial rule. 

The wooden statue named Phineas Maclino was brought to the university grounds in 1900 to celebrate the victory over the Boers at Ladysmith during the Second Boer War. 

The mascot survived several kidnappings by rival King’s College London students before it was finally encases in a protective glass box and placed in the student pub named in its honour.

The wooden statue named Phineas Maclino was brought to the university grounds in 1900 to celebrate the victory over the Boers at Ladysmith during the Second Boer War

The wooden statue named Phineas Maclino was brought to the university grounds in 1900 to celebrate the victory over the Boers at Ladysmith during the Second Boer War

The statue Phineas chained to a Lamp post in Park Lane
Phineas Maclino mascot to University College

The mascot survived several kidnappings by rival King’s College London students before it was finally encases in a protective glass box and placed in the student pub named in its honour

But after 120 years on campus, the UCL’s student union is considering removing the statue and changing the name of the bar because of its connection to the war, which saw Britain install ‘concentration camps’ to imprison large numbers of Boers.  

Union officials said it was clear that ‘events of the conflict would not be moments that the union and its officers would wish to celebrate today, as it led to appalling abuses of human rights and suffering and the deaths for thousands of civilians’.

They said the union should debate ‘the statue of a Jacobite Highlander’ so that its links to the ‘racially prejudiced policies’ of British colonial rule could be debated.

A decision on the future of the cherished mascot is expected next month.

The demands, which echo the Oxford Union’s campaign to have a statue of Cecil Rhodes removed, have been labelled a ‘kneejerk reaction’ – while historians suggest the statue was wrongly identified as a Jacobite Highlander.    

After 120 years on campus, the UCL's student union is considering removing the statue and changing the name of the bar because of its connection to the war, which saw Britain install 'concentration camps' to imprison large numbers of Boers.

After 120 years on campus, the UCL’s student union is considering removing the statue and changing the name of the bar because of its connection to the war, which saw Britain install ‘concentration camps’ to imprison large numbers of Boers.

The Highlands were occupied by the British forces after they crushed the Jacobite Rising in 1745

The Highlands were occupied by the British forces after they crushed the Jacobite Rising in 1745

The Highlands were occupied by the British forces after they crushed the Jacobite Rising in 1745.

‘Highland culture was forcibly destroyed — bagpipes, kilts and Gaelic language were banned,’ Raoul Curtis-Machin, of National Trust for Scotland told The Times

He added: ‘This statue is of a Highland soldier post the 1745 uprising, and not a Jacobite.’    

A UCL Student’s Union spokesperson said: ‘During the summer we fully refurbished our building… A major part of the refurbishment was a total transformation of our third-floor bar; Phineas – named after our mascot Phineas Maclino, a wooden statue of a Jacobite Highlander originally stolen by UCL students in February 1900.

‘The Phineas statue has represented many different things over the past 119 years, but its association with our Union started as a celebration of an event in the Second Boer War.

'The Phineas statue has represented many different things over the past 119 years, but its association with our Union started as a celebration of an event in the Second Boer War' a UCL Student's Union spokesperson said

‘The Phineas statue has represented many different things over the past 119 years, but its association with our Union started as a celebration of an event in the Second Boer War’ a UCL Student’s Union spokesperson said 

‘As the Bar was close to reopening we decided to pause on reinstalling the wooden Phineas statue. Instead, we’ve started a conversation about what kind of mascot our Union should have.

‘We’re now asking our members whether they feel Phineas is fit to remain as our mascot, or whether we should consider something new.

No decisions have been taken yet and we’re keen to hear what our members have to say. As a students’ union with one of the largest and most diverse memberships anywhere in the world, we believe these conversations are important.

The Union will consider all views put forward by our members and a decision will be taken in December.

Boer War: A long slog to victory against a much smaller enemy

The Boer Wars in South Africa resulted from more than a century of conflict between the British Empire and the Boers, who were farmers descended from the original Dutch settlers. 

The First Boer War took place between 1880 and 1881, and the Second Boer War between 1899 and 1902. At one time there were as many as 500,000 British soldiers in South Africa, while the Boers could only muster some 88,000.

The Boers formed two republics, the Transvaal and The Oranje Vrijstaat or Orange State, which they attempted to keep independent of British Colonial rule.

Large numbers of British armed forces were engaged first in open warfare, and subsequently in a long and bitter guerrilla campaign which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902.

British military service records show high losses, with more than half caused by illness, especially typhoid fever, rather than enemy action. 

22,000 British soldiers were killed, of which only 35% died in battle, and the remaining 65% from disease. Nearly 100,000 lives were lost overall during the conflict. 

Main image copyright: UCL

Written by: Rod Ardehali

First published: 06.11.19: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7654763/UCL-students-demand-removal-Boer-war-mascot-colonial-links.html

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