Bristol is taking great steps towards a more open, transparent and honest representation of its history in relation to slavery and colonialism. Important developments include the following:
Colston Hall – Colston Street, Centre, BS1 (includes Colston Street Bar & Kitchen). The city’s major music venue announced that it will change its name as a reflection of its commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality. It will choose a new name as part of its upcoming refurbishments, and marking its 150th anniversary. We understand that it is inviting artists to create a piece helping to mark its historic name change, and communicating why this change is important.
The school formerly known as Colston’s Primary School held an exemplary three-month consultation with students and the school community. They voted to change the school’s name. Coinciding with its 70th anniversary, in 2018 the students and teachers of Colston’s Primary chose a new name: Cotham Gardens Primary School
Bristol’s oldest craft beer pub, formerly known as the Smiles Brewery Tap and later as Colston Yard Pub, announced that it was dropping ‘Colston’. It is now the Bristol Yard Pub.
The Bristol Cathedral added a prayer for those harmed by the injustices of transatlantic slavery, beneath the stained-glass window of Colston.
In the Foyer of the Wills Memorial Building, the University of Bristol has placed an informational panel acknowledging that 85% of its founding endowments came from donor families who made their money through enslaved labour or post-slavery exploitation of former enslaved people. This panel asks what responsibilities institutions have today given the history and legacies of slavery.
A proposal has been made to add a plaque to the Colston Statue in the center of Bristol. Is this enough? Or should further steps be taken?
Much more remains to be done. We believe that Bristol should create a major slavery memorial honouring the lives of the enslaved, and a museum telling the history of slavery and abolition. In places where slavers have historically been celebrated, we should tell the history forthrightly through artwork, new names and plaques that re-tell the history in a balanced way.
We have focused on Colston in the first instance because he has been held up as an icon of philanthropy, and treated as an emblem of charity in Bristol. Here are some of the places where Colston has been honoured. We encourage each of these institutions to think creatively. What role can they play in telling the city’s history more forthrightly?
Buildings, institutions and businesses:
Colston Tower & Colston Centre – Centre, BS1
Colston’s Almshouses – St Michael’s Hill, BS2
Colston House – (student accomodation)
The Colston – (more student accomodation)
Colston Fort – NHS Drug & Alcohol Services
Colston Avenue – Centre BS1
Colston Dale – Stapleton, BS16
Colston Parade – Redcliffe, BS1
Colston Road – Easton, BS5
Colston Street – Centre, BS1
Colston Street – Soundwell, BS16
Edward Colston’s fingernails and hair are kept at Merchant’s Hall. (As reported on page 4 of the linked edition of Colston’s Chronicle).
Bronze chrysanthemums – Colston’s favourite flower, used in commemoration ceremonies (see page 23). Until 2017, students of Colston’s Girls’ School wore his favourite flower at their annual Commemoration ceremony.
A skiff (boat) belonging to All-aboard Watersports, launched in 2014.
Colston Statue – Colston Avenue, Centre BS1; with a copy at Colston Girls School
Colston Statue and Tomb – All Saints Church, Corn Street, BS1
‘Edward Colston’ by George Vertue after Jonathan Richardson, line engraving 1722.
‘The Death of Colston’, painting by Richard Jeffreys Lewis 1844 Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.
Colston Window – Bristol Cathedral, College Green, BS1
Colston Research Society – Bristol University, BS8
Colston’s Girls’ School Commemoration Day – 4th November 2016 – Ceremony held in Bristol Cathedral – On this day the girls are expected to wear a bronze chrysanthemum (see page 23) in memory of Colston. In 2017, the school agreed to stop requiring their students to wear this flower.
Charter Day – 10th November 2016 – Another ceremony held in Bristol Cathedral, with Colston’s School, Merchant’s Academy (formally Withywood community school), and Colston’s Girls’ School (now a state-funded academy). The children are given Colston buns in memory of Colston.
Colston’s Day – 14th November 2016 – Edward Colston’s birthday was 2nd November but due to a calendar change in 1752 it moved to 13th November (and may be celebrated on the nearest weekday). Service is held at St Stephen’s church. There was also a “Colston Day Service and AGM” hosted by St Mary Redcliffe Church in October 2016.
Schools and university:
Colston Girls School – BS6 and BS9
Colston Primary School – BS6
Colston’s School – Stapleton, BS16
The Dolphin School – BS6 (named after one of the Colston societies)
Colston House at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School – BS1
Bristol University – The dolphin on the university crest represents Edward Colston.
This list is a work-in-progress. If you spot any more examples, please email them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org