It has been almost a year and a half since protesters pulled down a Bristol statue of Edward Colston, the 17-18th century merchant and local philanthropist who, as the focus of this demonstration, was involved in the slave trade. But controversy over the city’s links to Colston live on.
The “Colston School” has been named as such since it was founded by the local businessman in 1710.
But its current leaders believe recent riots on the subject of racism mean the name must go.
In a statement, the school said these events made it clear the name “Colston” will “forever be associated with the enslavement and deaths of African men, women and children”.
A consultation was set up to produce a sense of the public’s views on the name.
Around 2,500 responses were received, including 1,000 from the general public, more than 80 percent of whom said the school should not change its name.
The school decided to reject this advice, arguing that “those with a closer connection to the school” wanted to see the name changed.
The school said: “It is hoped that a new identity will do more to reflect the values and ethos that the school stands for today and to make it even more welcoming to the local community it serves.”
It added: “The Governors are adamant that changing the name of the school will not erase the school’s history, and that teaching of the transatlantic slave trade and the role of Edward Colston in Bristol’s history will remain a key part of the school’s curriculum.
This led to the creation of the “Save Our Statues” campaign.
Responding to the Bristol school’s decision – and, in particular, to the overriding of its consultation – the campaign’s Twitter page wrote: “Woke overrides democracy again.”
Colston School is not the only Bristol institution to have changed its name following the BLM riots in 2020.
In September of that year, the “Colston Hall” music venue was renamed the “Bristol Beacon”.
Then in November, “Colston Tower” was renamed “Beacon Tower”.