Girls’ school to keep slave trader name

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width lead”> Image copyright Google

Image caption Colston’s Girls’ School converted from a private school to an academy in 2008

A girls’ school named after a 17th Century slave trader will not change its name.

Colston’s Girls’ School (CGS), in Bristol, said in a letter to parents it was “not appropriate” to remove merchant Edward Colston’s name.

It comes after music venue, Colston Hall, said it would drop the “toxic” name in 2020 and Colston’s Primary said it would consult pupils and parents.

CGS said it “existed today because of the financial endowment” from Colston.

It told parents it had considered the suggestion to rename the school and had “listened carefully to views on both sides”.

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The letter also said: “We see no benefit in denying the school’s financial origin and obscuring history itself.

“To the contrary, by enabling our students to engage thoughtfully with our past, we continue to encourage them to ask questions about present-day moral values and to stand up for what they believe is right,” the school said.

Who was Edward Colston?

Image copyright Phillip Halling
Image caption A grand bronze statue of Edward Colston has stood in Bristol city centre since 1895
  • Colston was born into a prosperous Bristol merchant’s family and, although he lived in London for many years, was always closely associated with the city
  • By 1672, he had his own business in the capital trading in slaves, cloth, wine and sugar. A significant proportion of Colston’s wealth came directly or indirectly from the slave trade
  • In 1680, he became an official of the Royal African Company, which at the time held the monopoly in Britain on slave trading
  • He donated to churches and hospitals in Bristol, also founding two almshouses and a school
  • Colston also lent money to the Bristol corporation and was a city MP for a short time
  • The bronze statue commemorating Colston in the city of his birth has an inscription on it which reads: “Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city”. There is no mention of his role in the slave trade

Source: BBC History/Nigel Pocock

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