Barclays has confirmed the ‘Buchanan’ name will be dropped from a major riverside development in Glasgow amid concerns over its connection with the slave trade.
A district on the south bank of the River Clyde, where the banking giant’s new Northern European hub and more than 300 flats are being built, has been marketed as Buchanan Wharf.
Hundreds of people have signed a petition which calls for the name to be changed due to, tobacco merchant and former Lord Provost of Glasgow, Andrew Buchanan’s links to slavery.
A spokesman for Barclays said the development will be known as the Barclays Glasgow Campus and the city council has been notified of the plan.
The petition, signed by more than 350 people, asks Drum Property Group, which is developing the site, to stop the area from being named Buchanan Wharf.
It states: “Glasgow should not be glorifying the horrific barbarity of the slave trade and its slave masters by naming its new city centre riverside development Buchanan Wharf.”
A spokesman for the developer said names often change when occupiers take over a building.
He said: “Buchanan Wharf is now recognised throughout the world as an exciting new development in Glasgow, having been promoted via global campaigns and initiatives in partnership with Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government and the UK Government Department of Industry & Trade.
“However, as the Buchanan Wharf site progresses, so will the names associated with the development change as occupiers take ownership of their own buildings and rename them accordingly. This is a natural evolution of any development process.
“In the meantime, we are fully supportive of the City of Glasgow’s commitment to widen both debate and education on the matter of the city’s merchant and slavery past and look forward to participating in the forthcoming programme of consultation.”
Drum Property Group did say the development had been named in honour of “one of Glasgow’s most well-known steamboat owners” Captain William Buchanan, not Andrew Buchanan, but acknowledged people would make the connection with the tobacco lord.
The spokesman said: “Many of Captain Buchanan’s pleasure boat steamers were docked at Bridge Wharf – the site of today’s Buchanan Wharf – before sailing ‘doon the watter’ to Greenock, Dunoon and the Isle of Bute.
“The steamers are a rich historical reference, with no association to slavery and represent a romantic and fundamental part of the city’s life on the Clyde.”
Barclays “has a consistent naming convention for our key global sites”, the company’s spokesman said.
“In line with that practice we took the decision last year that our new state-of-the-art facilities in Glasgow will be called the Barclays Glasgow Campus.
“We will be using the city’s historic Tradeston district in our address and we have already notified Glasgow City Council of our intention.”
An academic study into Glasgow’s links to slavery is being carried out by Dr Stephen Mullen.
Council leader Susan Aitken said: “When we commissioned our study of the city’s links to transatlantic slavery last year, I said that we should be careful not to add to existing contentious place names.
“In my experience, Barclays has always approached this subject with open ears and open minds.
“I’m very happy that they plan to use the address Clyde Place, Tradeston – a district that they are going to play a major role in regenerating over the coming years.”
Activists renamed city centre streets on Friday when a George Floyd Street sign appeared on Buchanan Street, which is named after Andrew Buchanan.
Mr Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. His death has sparked protests across the world.
Story by local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands