University College London removes 120-year-old statue of soldier due to its links to ‘racially prejudiced’ Colonial policies

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University College London has taken down a 120-year-old mascot of a Scottish soldier after complaints from students it had racist links.   

The wooden Black Watch officer statue named Phineas Maclino was brought to the university grounds in 1900 to celebrate the victory over the Boers at Ladysmith during the Second Boer War. 

The mascot survived several kidnappings by rival King’s College London students before it was finally encased in a protective glass box and placed in the student pub named in its honour.

The wooden statue named Phineas Maclino was brought to the university grounds in 1900 to celebrate the victory over the Boers at Ladysmith during the Second Boer War

The wooden statue named Phineas Maclino was brought to the university grounds in 1900 to celebrate the victory over the Boers at Ladysmith during the Second Boer War

The statue Phineas chained to a Lamp post in Park Lane
Phineas Maclino mascot to University College

The mascot survived several kidnappings by rival King’s College London students before it was finally encases in a protective glass box and placed in the student pub named in its honour

But after 120 years on campus, the statue has been decommissioned by student union officials, who branded it a symbol of imperialism over its connection to the Boer War, according to The Times.

Executive members of the student union voted unanimously to get rid of the statue on Wednesday. 

The union said: ‘The majority of students felt that although the Phineas statue no longer represented British colonialism, its historic ties were not representative of the union today.’

They said the statue represented the ‘racially prejudiced’ British colonial rule in South Africa.   

After 120 years on campus, the UCL's student union has removed the controversial statue

After 120 years on campus, the UCL’s student union has removed the controversial statue

The demands, which echo the Oxford Union’s campaign to have a statue of Cecil Rhodes removed, have been labelled a ‘kneejerk reaction’ – while historians suggest the statue was wrongly identified as a Jacobite Highlander. 

Ironically, Jacobites were themselves oppressed by British imperialism, historians say.

The UCL union was unaware the statue had an identical twin in South Africa which is loved by its staff and students.

Phineas II was made the mascot of Wits University in Johannesburg in 1923 and even though it was decommissioned in 1971 it remains a big part of campus life.

The Highlands were occupied by the British forces after they crushed the Jacobite Rising in 1745

The Highlands were occupied by the British forces after they crushed the Jacobite Rising in 1745. The Highlands were occupied by the British forces after they crushed the Jacobite Rising in 1745. ‘Highland culture was forcibly destroyed — bagpipes, kilts and Gaelic language were banned,’ Raoul Curtis-Machin, of National Trust for Scotland told The Times. 

He added: ‘This statue is of a Highland soldier post the 1745 uprising, and not a Jacobite.’    

A UCL Student’s Union spokesperson said previously: ‘During the summer we fully refurbished our building… A major part of the refurbishment was a total transformation of our third-floor bar; Phineas – named after our mascot Phineas Maclino, a wooden statue of a Jacobite Highlander originally stolen by UCL students in February 1900.

'The Phineas statue has represented many different things over the past 119 years, but its association with our Union started as a celebration of an event in the Second Boer War' a UCL Student's Union spokesperson said

‘The Phineas statue has represented many different things over the past 119 years, but its association with our Union started as a celebration of an event in the Second Boer War’ a UCL Student’s Union spokesperson said 

‘The Phineas statue has represented many different things over the past 119 years, but its association with our Union started as a celebration of an event in the Second Boer War.

‘As the Bar was close to reopening we decided to pause on reinstalling the wooden Phineas statue. Instead, we’ve started a conversation about what kind of mascot our Union should have.

‘We’re now asking our members whether they feel Phineas is fit to remain as our mascot, or whether we should consider something new.’   

Phineas is often seen at UCL sporting matches against rivals King’s College London but now he will no longer be on the sidelines. 

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