United Kingdom

BLM activists spray paint 'slaver' on walls of Grade-II listed pub in Dorset

Black Lives Matter supporters have graffitied a village pub named after a Tory MP's slaveowner ancestors. 

The Drax Arms in Bere Regis, Dorset, was targeted last night by vandals who sprayed the words 'slaver' and 'BLM' on to the walls.  

The Grade II-listed pub is named after the Drax family who own the nearby estate and whose forefathers ran plantations in Barbados and Jamaica in the 17th century.

But the family, including Conservative MP for South Dorset Richard Drax, no longer have any ties to the pub, which has been owned by brewery Hall and Woodhouse for a century. 

Since 2017 it has been managed by tenant Kerry Davies and her family, who are gutted they have been vandalised ahead of their post-lockdown reopening in May.

The word slaver is sprayed on to the side of the Grade II-listed village pub named after a Tory MP's slaveowner ancestors

The Drax Arms in Bere Regis, Dorset, was targeted last night by vandals who sprayed the words 'slaver' and 'BLM' on to the walls

BLM - Black Lives Matter - has been scrawled on the walls of The Drax Arms even though it hasn't been owned by the Drax family in a century

Mrs Davies, 43, said: 'I was just shocked. Our pub is in a village that is usually quite sheltered from things like graffiti.

'The whole team were devastated. We had just spent months redecorating and getting the place ready to reopen. Everyone was excited and then this happened.

'It feels personal, even if it's not. The Drax Arms is named after the Drax family who still own vast amounts of land nearby but apart from the name, that's the only association with the pub.

'The Drax Arms is owned by local brewery Hall & Woodhouse and we are a small independent business trying to make ends meet.

'The majority of people can see there are no ties between us and what happened 300 years ago.

'I don't know what they expect to achieve from this. It's not going to make us able to change the past and scrawling graffiti on a pub doesn't bring about the consequences they want to.

'It doesn't really gain support for that movement, it has the opposite effect.'

But the family, including Conservative MP Richard Drax (pictured), no longer have any ties to the pub, which has been owned by brewery Hall and Woodhouse for a century

Drax Hall's sugar plantation (pictured) in Saint George, Barbados, had a workforce of around 327 enslaved people for around 200 years

Drax family was paid £3million for 189 slaves in 1836

Tory MP Richard Drax is descended from John Sawbridge Erle-Drax, who was compensated £4,293 - £3million today - for 189 slaves in 1836. 

For years the family owned Drax Hall sugar cane plantation in St George's, Barbados.  

It was built around 1650, around 20 years after James and William Drax first sailed to Barbados.

The Drax family owned slaves in Barbados from the mid-1600s and later expanded to Jamaica.

Drax Hall's sugar plantation in Saint George, Barbados, had a workforce of around 327 enslaved people for nearly 200 years.

Richard Drax, 62, registered the plantation business in his full name and pays tax due on the property personally, after inheriting it when his father died in 2017.  

The pub dates back to the 1800s and was mentioned in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Hardy called Bere Regis Kingsbere in the novel.

The Drax family owned sugar plantations worked by slaves brought from Africa, and were pioneers in the early stages of the slave economy.

They devised a model that was copied across the West Indies and Americas. Today the family owns 14,000 acres of land in Dorset.

Mrs Davies said Conservative MP Mr Drax has been in contact since the vandalism attack to apologise.

She said: 'He was very apologetic and offered to help in any way he can and said he himself has been a target because of his family's history.

'It's a heavy metallic paint, like the kind used on cars and doesn't wash off so the only way to remove it is to chip it off or cover it up.

'The brewery have said they're going to try repainting but I don't think it's going to be straightforward.

'It's been a tough year for us, the brewery and the whole industry. The community have been incredibly supportive.'

Duncan Rouse, a spokesman for Hall & Woodhouse, said: 'The Drax Arms is one of our tenanted pubs that is named after the nearby Drax Estate.

'The name of the pub and the Grade-II listed building dates back to the 1800s.

'The tenants and the pub itself have no links to the Drax Estate and no links to the issues that the graffiti references. The current business partners have been running the pub since 2017.

'We are supporting our business partners to rectify the graffiti damage caused to the exterior of the building.'

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