Twitter spat sees TfL staff remove board at Dollis Hill commemorating battle of Rorke’s Drift

Dollis Hill Tube Station (Picture: Google)

Dollis Hill Tube Station (Picture: Google) - Credit: Archant

Underground staff removed messages from a whiteboard at Dollis Hill Tube station supposedly written to remember a battle in Zululand following complaints.

The Dollis Hill station notice board commemorating the battle of Rorke’s Drift was wiped clean on Tuesday after a complaint from a member of the public, which was backed by singer Lily Allen and campaign groups.

The message, written by a Tube worker on Tuesday, read: “On this day in history. On the 22-23 of January 1879 in Natal South Africa, a small British garrison named Rorke’s Drift was attack [sic] by 4,000 Zulu warriors. The garrison was successfully defended by just over 150 British and colonial troops. Following the battle, eleven men were awarded the Victoria Cross.”

Transport for London (TfL) was forced to apologise after a video was shared by Ms Allen on Twitter where she agreed with a woman saying the sign was “celebrating colonialism”. The video has since been deleted.

Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Votes, said: “Whilst marking the historic event was intended to be celebratory, it was anything but.

“That battle and the broader colonial endeavour resulted in the theft of a continent’s resources, the death of millions of Africans and the subjugation of its people.”

After its removal TfL was criticised by Twitter commenters for backing down.

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@MiltMonster added: “How pathetic are @TfL with their handling of the #RorkesDrift notice at Dollis Hill tube. How can a factual note of such a nature be “ill judged”. What next? History should be recorded & analysed.”

@Elder1Graham added: “@TfL There’s real danger associated with erasing history because it doesn’t accord with modern values or the opinions of those who treat looking for things to be offended by as a sport - you should defend your staff at #dollishill not criticise them.”

Mr Woolley added: “The push back from the TfL denouncement sadly demonstrates the continued denial of the pain of colonialism.”

The Zulu’s attack on Rorke’s Drift came after the British invaded the area in January 1879. Rorke’s Drift was being used by the the British for a depot and hospital during the invasion. In 1964 the British war film “Zulu” was released based on the battle starring Michael Caine.

A spokesman for Transport for London said: “We apologise to any customers who were offended by the message on the whiteboard at Dollis Hill on Tuesday.

“Our staff across the network share messages on these boards, but in this instance the message was clearly ill-judged.

“We are speaking with our staff to remind them of what is and isn’t acceptable.”