Bideford in Devon changes 'Little White Town' signposts after racist claims

Bideford has agreed to change its signposts referring to it as 'The Little White Town' after complaints were made about it being racist (Picture: SWNS)

The Devon town of Bideford has decided to change welcome signs referring to it as the ‘Little White Town’ amid complaints of racism.

Bideford has been known as the ‘Little White Town’ for more than 150 years after author Charles Kingsley coined the phrase in reference to its large number of white buildings.

But in recent years concerns have been expressed that there is a racist undertone to the title and it should be scrapped from all the signs around the North Devon town.

According to a survey on the issue, 69% were in favour of keeping the name while 31% thought it should change.

But at a recent meeting, Bideford Town Council voted to change the signposts to remove any suggestion of racism.

Bideford was dubbed the 'Little White Town' because of the number of white buildings (Picture: SWNS)

Local councillor Dermot McGeough had tabled a motion saying: "Following a number of complaints from parishioners, I propose that the words 'Little White Town' are removed from all signs within the town and at the town entrances."


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While some members described the suggestion as 'political correctness gone mad', it was agreed that the signposts will be changed.

They will now include Charles Kingsley’s name to add context to the phrase, and will read: “Charles Kingsley's ‘Little white town’ (1855)”.

The signposts for Bideford are being changed to deal with suggestions they might be racist (Picture: SWNS)

Writing about the debate in a local newspaper column councillor Peter Christie said: "The town council discussed an unusual motion last week.

“Councillor Dermot McGeough wanted to remove the words 'Little white town' from the road signs at the entrances to the town following 'a number of complaints'.

"Needless to say this generated a lot of debate with Doug Bushby speaking for many when he reckoned it was 'political correctness gone mad' and Trevor Johns saying many Bidefordians he talked to were horrified at this suggestion.

"Peter Lawrence didn't want to cause any offence but did wonder where this might lead asking if 'Bideford Black' paint should be renamed 'Bideford Slightly Dark'?

"Kay Corffe wanted to respect peoples' feelings and thus supported Joel Herron's suggestion to change the wording to 'Charles Kingsley's “Little white town” (1855)' which would put the phrase into context.

"Councillor McGeough agreed to this change and when it came to the vote this was the way the council went."

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