A Soho Be At One pub has been forced to remove a photograph from its walls after patrons objected to an edited image which superimposed the faces of exclusively white investors over those of black drinkers in the original.
The original historic photo, which has hung in the pub for more than 80 years, showed black drinkers in the pub in the early 1930s.
The objections were raised while the 200-year-old pub was being refurbished and rebranded from the Pillars of Hercules to Bar Hercules. Management said the superimposed faces were those of their Be At One investors, and said the image had been created as a “cheeky opening gift”.
Hi Joel, to give some context – We love the pub and the original picture, we’ve worked hard to give the place a loving restoration and the picture was commissioned as a cheeky opening gift to our investors (that's them in the pic) who made the project possible – thanks
— BarHerculesSoho (@HerculesSoho) August 6, 2018
New owner Matt Fleming said: “Firstly, I’d like to apologise for any offence that this has caused. When the founders of Be At One invested in my vision, I wanted to say thank you to them in the pub. With the challenges facing Soho and the pub sector, I thought it was a great opportunity to bring an iconic pub back to life.
“The original picture will be taking back its pride of place at Hercules.”
The change prompted outrage from local drinkers who first spotted the change and branded the move an “embarrassment”, describing the new version of the photo as “awful”.
New owners of Pillars of Hercules Pub [NOT Bar Hercules, you twats] don't try to repaint history.. Those of us who know and love Soho, will NOT LET SHIT LIKE THIS PASS. https://t.co/FWrRcrf6tj
— Geoff McGivern (@Geoff_McGivern) August 6, 2018
And it’s been recently refurbed (as a very “now” bar). Just dropped in to check out the refit, and someone has painted that photo and framed it on the wall. But… er… something is different. WHAT THE FUCK? Who are these new white guys? Why? (2/2) pic.twitter.com/DfBMrizC4A
— Joel Morris (@gralefrit) August 6, 2018
Be At One chief executive Andrew Stones, told The Huffington Post: “In light of the fact one of our guests has taken offence to [the illustration], we will remove it. The whole reason it was commissioned by the previous owners was so it could be a tongue-in-cheek nod to the bar’s previous history.”
Bar manager Charles Roche, told same paper: “This was seen as more of a sincere offering to them rather than a stab at racism.”