Lancaster University's Sugarhouse nightclub to be renamed due to controversial slave trade links

Students at Lancaster University have voted in favour of renaming their city centre nightclub due to its connections to the slave trade.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 3:45 pm
The Sugarhouse in Lancaster.

As we reported earlier this month, Lancaster students launched a petition asking for the Sugarhouse to be renamed.

The nightclub is located in Sugarhouse Alley and is on the site of a 17th century sugarhouse and boiling house, used to process sugar and other produce grown and harvested on slave plantations in the West Indies.

At the time, Lancaster was the fourth largest slave trading port in Britain.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The petition was set up by Lancaster University students who said it should be renamed to "ensure that vicious atrocities are not normalised or celebrated, but instead remembered in the appropriate way".

And it asked Lancaster University Students’ Union, who own the nightclub independently, to help educate students to ensure that the history of the Sugarhouse is not forgotten.

The petition required the support of two per cent - around 320 - of the student body to be put to a student referendum

And following the closure of the petition, the students’ union executive committee unanimously voted to rename the nightclub.

The university's BAME students officer, Max Kafula, said: “I am so proud that my policy to rename Sugarhouse was passed. I am also pleased that a working group will be set up to help find us a new name for the club.

"I will be working with the 'Why is My Curriculum White?' Campaign and key stakeholder groups in ensuring that all students will have a voice in finding a brand new name that we can all be proud of.

"The decision to rename Sugarhouse was the right decision. It is time that we highlight our dark colonial past and educate everyone on it. This is a massive step in the right direction in making sure that we are a committed to be an anti-racist organisation. I am very much excited to see what happens next."

The ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ Campaign group said: “Following the success of our Sugarhouse petition, the Why is My Curriculum White Campaign welcomes the decision taken by the executive committee to rename the Sugarhouse and we are pleased that our proposals to begin a student-led process to choose a new name for the venue and also to design a long-term educational programme surrounding Lancaster’s history are to be enacted.

“This decision marks a hugely positive step from the students’ union in recognising the darker sides of Lancaster’s past and the city’s heinous ties to the transatlantic slave trade.

"We called for the name to be changed given the links to Lancaster’s slave-trading past and are glad that students will now be given an opportunity to choose a new name which better reflects a 21st century Lancaster.”

The students’ union now plans to work with others to highlight Lancaster’s colonial history and are committed to investing and implementing educational programmes to all students and staff.

The union will be establishing a working group that will assist with the renaming of the Sugarhouse, with details on this to be released soon.