‘The Black Bitch’ in West Lothian to be renamed after Greene King feared gamblers would be offended
A 17th-century pub called ‘The Black Bitch’ is set to change its name after Greene King opted for an ‘anti-racist’ rebrand for fear the title wouldn’t be ‘welcoming and inclusive’.
Operating under the popular British brand, the 350-year-old boozer in Linlithgow, West Lothian in Scotland, is set for a dramatic makeover after the chain feared offended customers would be put off by racist links to its name.
Punters are stunned by the move, with many questioning the decision to part with an entrenched symbol of the city’s history.
According to local lore, ‘The Black Bitch’ dates back to the 17th century and is named after a black, female greyhound that is part of the town’s coat of arms.
In the story, the brave pet saves her owner from starvation while imprisoned on Linlithgow Loch, and is mentioned within the community as a reminder of her bravery.
A statue commemorating the local legend stands in the center of the historic Scottish town to this day, while the coat of arms shows the black dog chained to an oak tree.
The pub will reportedly be renamed The Black Hound after lengthy consultations with both internal and external groups, including a local race and equality forum.
A 17th-century pub called ‘The Black Bitch’ is set to change its name after owners opted for an ‘anti-racist’ rebrand over fears the title wasn’t ‘welcoming and inclusive’
According to local lore, ‘The Black Bitch’ dates back to the 17th century and is named after a black, female greyhound (pictured above) that is part of the town’s coat of arms
The doggy is said to symbolize a local legend of a hunting dog who swam to his captive master on Linlithgow Loch and saved his life – proving that the pets really are man’s best friend.
But despite the town’s rich local history, Greene King announced plans to rename the historic cafe in line with the company’s “anti-racist” policies.
A planning application will be submitted to West Lothian Council to change the name that has been on the pub sign since the 17th century.
After the news was announced, outraged local residents took to social media to reject the decision.
Catherine Williams wrote: ‘It’s ridiculous, she’s a black bitch, part of the town’s history and a symbol of loyalty!’
Bruce Gardner added: ‘This is a complete joke, it’s named after a black bitch.
“How many of the people consulted who said they wouldn’t think about going there would actually live close enough if the name was changed. This has now gone too far and must be stopped.’
Laura Anderson joked, ‘Is it April Fools Day yet? This is a joke. This is part of Linlithgow’s history.”
Meanwhile, Morag Nelson asked, ‘Where does it stop? The White House? It has never been a racist insult. It is a historic honor to have this title.”
In making his decision, Greene King spoke with people both internally and with local groups, including the West Lothian Community Race Forum, reports the Linlithgow Gazette.
Gamblers are stunned by Greene King’s decision, with many questioning the decision to part with a deeply rooted symbol of the city’s history
Commenting on the move, Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie said: “This is an important decision to make, but we believe it is the right one.
‘We are well aware of the pub’s history and where the name comes from so we are choosing a new name which still reflects the pub’s history and will try to keep the coat of arms and graphics on the pub sign preserve.
“We’ve been watching and discussing this for many months as we understand that changing this name will bring about differing opinions, but as part of our commitment to being an anti-racist organization we want our pub names to be welcoming and inclusive and that means taking action if there is to be positive change.’
It comes after similar steps have been taken by the chain, which has run more than 3,000 pubs in the UK in recent years.
Despite the town’s rich local history, Greene King announced plans to rebrand the historic cafe to align with the company’s “anti-racist” policies
The pub will reportedly now be called The Black Hound after lengthy discussions with outside groups including West Lothian Community Race Forum
In 2021, Greene King confirmed that three pubs in Suffolk and Berkshire, all called The Black Boy, would be renamed.
In England and Wales there are at least 25 different pubs called The Black Boy, or something similar.
But the name has come under fire from anti-racism campaigners during protests by the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.
Greene King was criticized last year for his own ties to slavery — with the owners promising to make donations to “benefit the black, Asian and minority ethnic community.”
The pub chain was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene – one of 47,000 people who benefited from a policy of compensating slave owners when Britain abolished slavery in 1833.
He received the equivalent of £500,000 in today’s money after giving up his claim to three West Indian plantations.
Benjamin Greene: The 19th Century Brewer Who Held 231 Slaves
Greene King traces its ties to slavery to its founder, Benjamin Greene, who records show that at least 231 are held in Caribbean islands.
Born in 1780 in Northamptonshire, Greene moved to Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, where in 1806 he founded what would become the UK’s largest brewery.
He inherited plantations in the West Indies from Sir Patrick Blake, 2nd Baronet, on his death.
In 1828 he bought the Bury and Suffolk Herald, at a time when the campaign to abolish slavery was being debated.
In his role as newspaper owner, Greene used the pages of the magazine to savagely oppose its abolition.
According to his Oxford biography, he campaigned with “enormous vigor to represent the interests of the West Indian slave owners at a critical juncture in their affairs.”
His opposition to abolition made him a controversial figure in Suffolk, and in 1837 he moved to London, where he founded Benjamin Greene & Son – West Indian ship merchants – with his son in Russell Square.
Despite Greene’s protests, MPs passed the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833, on the condition that slave owners receive compensation for freeing their slaves.
Records filed by UCL show that Greene claimed the modern equivalent of £500,000 for 231 slaves in the West Indies.
It appears from the claim forms that Greene received the following:
23 Jan 1836 – £2,672 for 156 slaves on St Kitts
27 Feb 1836 – £1,262 for 69 slaves on St Kitts
29 Feb 1836 – £98 for six slaves on Monsterrat