(Title Image: Sky News)
In light of the Black Lives Matter protests, Bridgend Council undertook an initial survey to determine whether several place names in the county are linked to General Thomas Picton (pdf).
While until 2020 he was perhaps remembered more for being the highest-ranked officer killed at the Battle of Waterloo, he was also a brutal colonial governor in Trinidad and slave-trader who was found guilty of illegally torturing a 14-year-old mixed-race girl but never sentenced.
In July, Cardiff Council agreed to remove Picton’s statue from Cardiff City Hall. A few weeks earlier, Bridgend Council launched a survey of place names and monuments with potential links to slavery and racism. The Welsh Government are also undertaking an audit on the appropriateness of place names, statues and monuments.
Some of the places named “Picton” include the Picton Gardens estate near Bridgend Retail Park, Picton Avenue in Porthcawl, Picton Street in Kenfig Hill and Picton Place and Picton Street in Nantyfyllon.
The survey has, so far, determined that there’s no direct link to Thomas Picton. However, there are indirect links through his siblings who were landowners in Bridgend, as well as descendants of the Turberville family (owners of the Ewenny estate) who adopted the name Picton-Turberville through marriage.
The provisional research also suggests Thomas Picton stayed at Ewenny (now in the Vale of Glamorgan) before leaving for Waterloo. The visit and his death is thought to have been commemorated through grove trees planted nearby.
A descendent of Thomas Picton’s sister married into the Brogden family – who owned Tondu ironworks and played a role in developing Porthcawl dock. As a result, there are several possible references to Picton in the county which could reference Thomas Picton himself – the full list is in the report.
Officers recommend to BCBC’s Cabinet Committee for Equalities that further research be undertaken with local historians to determine whether the use of the name “Picton” is definitely linked to General Thomas Picton.
There are no plans at this stage for any street names or buildings etc. to be renamed, but that could change depending on the outcome of the Welsh Government’s audit.