North Sydney Council has voted to retain the legacy of Benjamin Boyd, a colonial entrepreneur who lived in Neutral Bay in the 1840s.

Boyd is remembered for sourcing cheap labour in the South Sea Islands to work in Australia – a practice also known as ‘blackbirding’.

As we reported earlier this year, a campaign for the controversial figure’s name to be erased from our local landscape led to widespread community debate, when a public survey asked residents if they were in favour of re-naming Ben Boyd Rd.

North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson said Council supported feedback received from more than 2000 people, showing 54.7 per cent opposed to re-naming the 1.8km stretch of road and 44.3 per cent in favour.

Benjamin Boyd.

North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson.

She told 2GB’s Ben Fordham this morning “it would have been rather foolish to do anything else”.

“Most of the people who lived on Ben Boyd Road said no,” she said, “they actually quite like the name of their road.”

A North Sydney council report states residents who “opposed a name change felt very strongly about the issue”.

“Some regarded it as an attempt to ‘rewrite’ history. Given the strength of opinion, a change of name will not necessarily unite or reconcile the community,” it said.

The report added residents in favour of a Ben Boyd Rd rebrand believed it would “remove remnants of racist British colonial rule” from the local landscape.
One local described it as “how very woke”.

Mayor Gibson said the existing plaques at the bottom of Ben Boyd Rd (currently being restored) will remain.

“The road will stay as Ben Boyd Rd,” she told Ben Fordham, “Common sense has prevailed.”

Listen to the Ben Fordham and Jilly Gibson chat here: