Posted on February 5, 2015

Village Pub Embroiled in Race Row over Sign

Telegraph, February 4, 2015

A village pub might have to change its name after becoming embroiled in a race row over their sign that shows a black boy being scrubbed in the bath–by a white couple.

The Labour in Vain, in Yarnfield, Staffordshire, was considered not to be racist by council equality chiefs who previously asked the traditional pub to take their sign down.

However, a brewery that has taken over the 166-year-old pub is now considering changing the name–over fears that could be considered racist too.

A row has since broken out with residents who believe the historic country pub should keep the title it was first given in the mid-19th century.

Pub regular Jimmy Cawdell, 56, said: “If it goes ahead, which we’re sure it will, it will be political correctness gone mad.

“We are too upset about offending people these days, even if it means sacrificing our pub heritage. Everybody is outraged. There is not one person who uses this pub that thinks the name or the sign is racist.

“It should stay as it is because the pub is an integral part of the village’s history.”

Local John Rogers, 80, said he fears the pub and village will lose its identity and its heritage if the name is changed.

He added: “It has been called the Labour In Vain for more than 100 years. They only want to change the name to attract interest and deceive people into thinking it’s a new pub.

“I hope the people in the village boycott a new name, I really do.”

Brewery Enterprise Inns said it was looking to change the name once it reopens following a refurbishment.

It is understood that Enterprise wants to rename the pub the Yarnfield Arms, although no decision has been made.

Diane Lander, who runs Yarnfield Post Office, has set up a petition that has already attracted around 300 signatures.

The 47-year-old said: “There is strong opposition against it. It has been the Labour In Vain for 166 years.”

Brian Eyre, who sits on Yarnfield Parish Council, said: “In the past there has been a little bit of aggravation on the name and the sign because it is not seen as politically correct and caused a race row.

“I can understand why the people in the village want to retain the name as it is part of our heritage.

“However, in the 25 years I have lived here, the pub has closed a couple of times and the tenants don’t seem to survive very long.

“It has to be a positive that Enterprise wants to invest in the pub and village because at the moment it’s not particularly attractive.”

The controversial sign was first removed in 1994 when two schoolgirls launched a national campaign.

But in 2001, then-licensees Christine and John Glover found the original sign and hung it in the beer garden.

That led to a letter from Stafford and District Racial Equality Council (REC) asking for it to be removed from view, but the board has remained in place since.

An Enterprise Inns spokesman said: “We are currently reviewing several options for this popular village pub with the aim of having it back open and trading at the heart of the Yarnfield community as soon as possible.”