A student halls of residence in the centre of Bristol named after 17th century slave trader Edward Colston has been renamed.
The University of Bristol accommodation was named ‘Colston Street’ after the street in the city centre where it is situated, but will now be known as ‘Accommodation at Thirty-Three’ after another part of its address.
The large student block, which is opposite Bristol Beacon – formerly the Colston Hall concert venue – was badly damaged by fire in October 2015 and took two years to reopen.
It is part of the East Village Halls of Residence section of the University of Bristol’s accommodation, and last October, bosses at the university said they would rename the building. Now, they have begun the process of changing the name, and revealed what the new name will be.
A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “Following consultation and advice from Bristol City Council we are pleased to announce the new official name for this student residence is now Accommodation at Thirty-Three.
“The change has been made as part of our commitment to review relevant University building names and the University logo to ensure they reflect our current visions and values.
“We recognised that having the name of Colston associated with one of our residences might create an environment that could be perceived as unwelcoming to many students and wanted to take action to address this. Changes to the website and external databases will take place shortly,” the spokesperson added.
The area is close to The Centre where the statue of Edward Colston was toppled in June 2020. For decades, the statue was yards from Colston Avenue, with the Colston Tower on the corner of Colston Street with the Colston Hall and Colston Street student halls further up Colston Street.
Since the statue was toppled, the new name for the Colston Hall was announced – Bristol Beacon – and the Colston Tower was renamed Beacon Tower. Residents of both Colston Avenue and Colston Street have both lobbied Bristol City Council and its We Are Bristol History Commission to reinstate older medieval names – St Augustine’s Back and Steep Street respectively – which were changed to honour Edward Colston by Bristol’s Victorian elite in the second half of the 19th century.
Even before the statue was toppled just over a year ago, Bristol had been reassessing what was known as the ‘Cult of Colston’, as the key role the Bristol-born but London-based merchant played in the development of the industrial-scale transatlantic slave trade was highlighted.
Since the setting up of the Countering Colston campaign group, schools, pubs and ‘houses’ within schools were renamed, and since the statue was toppled that process has accelerated. Bristol University has come under pressure to consider the future of other buildings and institutions in recent years.
A petition was set up questioning the name of the Wills Memorial Building – funded by the Wills family who made their fortunes in the tobacco industry that used American slaves on plantations until the American Civil War, and the Goldney Halls student accommodation in Clifton Village, which is named after the Goldney family of merchants, investors and bankers, who owned the ironworks that made the goods that bought the slaves in West Africa, and funded many of the slave voyages.