A petition has been set up against brewer Greene King’s plans to rename the iconic Black Bitch pub in Linlithgow the ‘Black Hound’ due to concerns about racist connotations in the name.
The Black Bitch in Linlithgow dates back to at least the 17th century and was originally named after a black, female greyhound that features on the town’s heraldic crest.
Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has pledged his support for the local campaigners, who have now marshalled a near 7000 strong petition opposing the name change by the Suffolk-based brewery chain.
Mr Salmond, himself born in Linlithgow, said: “Greene King should call time on their daft plans. Whoever they consulted on this silliness certainly wasn’t local where the name Black Bitch is borne with pride as showing awareness and respect for Lithgae’s rich history.
“When I was first told about the story I assumed that the pub chain was just attempting to generate publicity in the holiday silly season.
"However, after a bit of my own research it seems clear that the company is on something of a guilt kick given the historic involvement in the slave trade of their founder Benjamin Greene. Significantly, there seems to be no proposal to change their own company name!
“I have suggested to the Greene King chief executive, that his company should understand that the battle against racism is about respect and that you don’t advance that cause by disrespecting local communities. They should instead redouble their efforts in inclusive employment and supporting anti-racist causes, not gratuitously insult an entire town.”
Meanwhile, Linlithgow councillor Tom Conn has also written to Greene King.
In his letter he said: "The Black Bitch has been an integral part of the town’s heritage for years, forms part of the Burgh Coat of Arms and seal, and now you make a decision that not only tarnishes the town’s reputation but explicitly the reputation of its residents.”
Greene King said it had nothing further to add to its statement released last week.
In that statement, Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie said: “This is an important decision to take but we feel strongly that it is the right one.
"We are well-aware of the pub’s history and where the name originates and so we are choosing a new name that still reflects the pub’s history and will look to retain the coat of arms and images on the pub’s sign.
“We have spent many months reviewing and discussing this as we understand that changing this name will attract a range of views, but as part of our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation we want our pub names to be welcoming and inclusive and that means taking action when there is a need to make a positive change for the better.”
You can sign the petition at www.change.org/p/stop-the-black-bitch-pub-name-change?redirect=false.