TfL urged to review railway station name over fears of its 'offensive' association with slavery

Craig Simpson
·2-min read
Train
Train

Transport for London (TfL) has been urged to review the name of a railway station in the capital over fears about its "offensive" association with slavery.

Newham councillors have called on the transport body to consider renaming Maryland station during a discussion over electoral ward names in the borough.

If approved, the move could pave the way for other rail and underground stations to be reviewed, with stops such as East India and Canning Town also highlighted for its past associations with the slave trade.

Maryland, which sits on the Great Eastern Main Line connecting London with eastern England, was allegedly given as the station's name through a slave-holding family who owned plantations in the Mid-Atlantic state.

The name has now been proposed as a new ward in the borough following a boundary shake-up, but Labour councillors say it could cause "deep disappointment" to Afro-Caribbean residents. An alternative suggestion of New Town has been put forward.

In a council report, politicians said they would consult with TfL with regards to renaming the railway station.

Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said the current Maryland name was a “disservice to the diversity of the borough”.

While Anthony McAlmont told members the use of Maryland is “offensive” because: “Anything that has some connection to slavery does offend some of us.”

It has been suggested the name originates with the merchant Richard Lee, who owned plantations in the American colonies, and may have brought back the name Maryland from his estates there.

A boundary commission report states:  “We received suggestions from the Council and a resident that Maryland ward should be renamed New Town because of the name’s possible links to a prominent figure in the colonial governments of North America."

It does however add that:  “Other evidence casts doubt on the origins of the name and points to earlier place name derivations.

“The Council acknowledges that there is uncertainty about the matter.”

It has been argued that British places deriving their names from American locales is extremely rare, and the most likely origin of “Maryland” is in fact the Old English word “mære” meaning boundary.