Hoxton park to be renamed in honour of late basketball star Joe White – as efforts to remove links to slave trade continue

Aske Gardens in Hoxton. Image: Google

A Hoxton park named after a man who made money from slavery will soon get a new moniker to honour a Hackney-born basketball star.

Aske Gardens will be renamed after the late Joe White, a former Team GB player and coach from Hackney Downs.

A ceremony will take place at 2pm this Friday at the park, which has strong links to basketball.

The council said: “Joe’s legacy is also measured through the many hundreds of lives he changed through sport, his lessons went beyond the court and equipped a generation of young inner city people to survive and succeed.”

White, who died in 2002 at the age of 40, grew up and went to school in Hackney.

He went on to become one of the UK’s most successful basketball coaches. Teams he worked with won 14 national school titles and 18 national club titles.

He trained some of the country’s best players, with two going on to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.

The park that will pay tribute to White was originally named after Robert Aske, who invested in the Royal African Company and made a fortune from enslaving people and selling them to others.

He held stock in the company from 1671, when it was paying a high return to investors.

Between 1672 and 1731,  it transported 187,697 enslaved people on 653 voyages to English colonies in the Americas.

A fifth of them died on the crossings.

Research by Hackney Council showed: “Aske would have been fully aware that this return was made through this unethical and inhuman ‘trade’.”

Residents suggested the council change the park’s name as part of the response to the Black Lives Matter campaign, which highlighted how those enriched by the slave trade are still celebrated today.

The council thought it would be more disruptive for residents if Aske House and Aske Street were renamed as they would have to change their address and it could affect official paperwork for them.

In 2021, the council renamed Cassland Road Gardens to Kit Crowley Gardens in a bid to sever links to Sir John Cass, who made a fortune from slavery.

A community event to unveil an information board detailing the name change at Aske Gardens and the legacy of Joe White will take place in spring next year.

A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to raise funds to enable the public release of Big Joe, a documentary film about White.

If you’d like to support the documentary, visit gofundme.com/f/big-joe-doc.