BY Mark Babatunde, 12:00pm April 28, 2017,

U.K.’s Colston Hall Changes Name To Cut Ties with Slave Trader

Anti-Colston campaigners say his name is a blight on the city’s heritage. Photo Credit: BBC

The city of Bristol, U.K., has announced that it would change the name of the city’s famous concert hall that was named after a wealthy Transatlantic slave trader.

Bristol’s 150-year-old Colston Hall, named after Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, will be renamed following years of a campaign led by anti-racism activists who have vowed to erase a toxic legacy from the city’s history, reports the Telegraph.

Before the decision, concert-goers and some of U.K.’s most respected bands had previously boycotted the venue to express their displeasure with the name.

The Bristol Music Trust, which runs Colston Hall, said the venue would be rebranded by 2020 as part of a £50 million refurbishment.

“The name ‘Colston’ does not reflect the trust’s values as a progressive, forward-thinking, and open arts organization,” said the trust’s chief executive, Louise Mitchell, adding, “Effectively, I’ve been selling a toxic brand up to now.”

Photo Credit: Bristol Radical History Group

Edward Colston

Colston, a Bristol-born slave merchant and member of British Parliament, made his fortune from the trade and exploitation of slaves from Africa who were shipped to plantations in the West Indies and America.

Estimates say his company shipped no less than 100,000 slaves, with more than 20,000 of them dying during the crossings between 1672 and 1698. In addition, each one of his slaves, including women and children and some as young as 6 years old, were branded on their chests with the company’s initials.

From the proceeds of the slave trade, Colston set up several endowments and donated some of his fortune to the city of Bristol.

Colston Street

Photo credit: University of Bristol

In fact, several schools, a pub, and a number of streets in the city are named in Colston’s honor while a prominent statue and a stained glass window in a cathedral also commemorate him. There is even a Colston bun, traditionally distributed to children on Colston Day.

Colston's Girls School

Colston’s Girls School. Photo credit: Flickr

Anti-Colston campaigners, though, say his name is a blight on the city’s heritage, and they are pleased that the city has finally taken the step to rename the concert hall.

“We really are delighted. We will now continue to target all of the buildings named in honor of Edward Colston. We want his statue taken down and put in a museum. The schools must also be renamed. We haven’t got strong feelings about the bun,” said Katie Finnegan-Clarke, one of the lead campaigners.

The 2,075-capacity Colston Hall has played host to some of the world’s greatest performers, including the Beatles, David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Bob Dylan.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: April 28, 2017


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