Three new information boards are to be placed by a monument commemorating Sir Thomas Picton in Carmarthen.

The illustrated boards will give a fuller picture of the Pembrokeshire-born general, whose violent actions as the colonial governor of Trinidad, an island nation in the Caribbean, have come under renewed scrutiny.

Carmarthenshire Council has obtained planning permission for the boards, which will be placed on a grass verge opposite the grade two-listed memorial, but it is understood the authority is finalising what the boards will say.

Following widespread anti-racism protests last year, which saw a Bristol statue of slave trader Edward Colston removed and dropped into a nearby harbour, Carmarthenshire Council decided to review monuments and street names within its own wards. 

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A task and finish group was set up to take the work forward, and the views of the public were sought.

One question related to the area's large monument to Lieutenant-General Thomas Picton, a British Army officer killed during the famous Battle of Waterloo. 

Nearly 2,500 people responded, with 1,613 saying no steps needed to be taken, and 744 saying changes should be made.

PictonBirthplace of Sir Thomas Picton on Hill Street, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. (Source: Grindtxx)

Before his death, Picton was most famous for his cruel and violent reign as the colonial governor of Trinidad, earning the nicknames "The Tyrant of Trinidad" and "The Blood-Stained Governor".

After the country was seized from the Spanish in the late 1700s, Picton was charged with keeping control of the island and its slaves as governor - and he approached the task with vicious brutality.

“He set about dispensing a brand of justice that was seldom tempered by mercy," remarked historian Chris Evans in 2018.

“Delinquents who were sent for immediate execution might consider themselves lucky; others had to endure mutilation and torture."

PictonPort of Spain, the capital of modern-day Trinidad and Tobago

Most notable was his trial for the torture of Luisa Calderón, a fourteen-year-old mixed-race girl who was accused of being involved in the theft of £500 from a businessman in the country's capital.

Unable to secure Luisa's confession through interrogation, Picton issued orders for her to be tortured by "piqueting" - which the prosecutor at his trial dubbed "Pictoning". 

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The teenage girl was suspended by her wrist from the ceiling and lowered onto a blunt wooden stake set in the floor, bare foot first.

This technique was sometimes used to punish soldiers, and was said to be excrutiatingly painful - but Luisa never confessed, and was released after 8 months' imprisonment.

At the same trial, Picton was also investigated for "torturing, decapitating and burning alive slaves accused of sorcery, witchcraft and necromancy," according to Amgueddfa Cymru, which replaced its own portrait of Picton earlier this year with a painting of an ordinary Welsh worker.

PictonAmgueddfa Cymru's portrait fo Picton (left) was replaced with a painting of a Welsh gardener (right) earlier this year (Source: Amgueddfa Cymru)

Lt Gen Picton was found guilty at his trial but never sentenced. After his death at Waterloo, the case was all but forgotten - and plaques, statues and portraits were erected around Wales in his honour. 

Heritage officers at Carmarthenshire Council, who assessed the application for the new boards, said in a report: “It could be argued that the actions of Sir Thomas Picton may not be widely known by all who appreciate the monument as part of their local landscape, and [for whom] the monument is part of the cherished and familiar local scene, but who would not appreciate the actions of the man.”

Carmarthen town mayor Gareth John told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he had sought the views of a wide cross-section of people and groups in the town, and that their views chimed with those given in the consultation.

Cllr John, who represents Carmarthen Town South as a county councillor, said he had been assured that the information boards would offer a fair picture of Sir Thomas.

“I’m looking forward to actually seeing them, and other people’s reaction to them,” he said.

Cardiff Council voted to remove Picton's statue from City Hall's "Hall of Welsh Heroes" last summer. The monument was boxed up, but by August this year had still not been removed.

Denbigh recently voted to keep its statue of infamous colonial explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who was born in the town. Stanley was instrumental in the colonisation of the Congo by Belgian King Leopold II, and was considered a particularly brutal man even for his time.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Wilks

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