Colston Hall removes slave trader's name from building in 'symbolic moment'

Will Taylor
News Reporter
Colston Hall's signage is removed by contractors ahead of a planned renaming. (PA Images)

Lettering on a building named after 17th century slave trader Edward Colston has been removed.

The Bristol Music Trust, which operates and manages the cultural programme at music venue Colston Hall in Bristol, described the signage removal as a “symbolic moment” ahead of a planned renaming in the autumn.

Protesters recently tore down a local statue of Colston, who made much of his fortune from the slave trade.

His name appears on many places in Bristol and the hall’s Twitter account said it was fulfilling a commitment made three years ago to rename it.

A statement on the hall’s website said the Colston name had been “divisive for many years and we have personally experienced strong views from both sides” since stating the name would be changed, and that the signage removal was a “public demonstration” of its commitment to do so.

“We have worked hard since then to understand the issues involved and consult widely to find a new name,” it said.

It added: “We believe we are here to share the unity and joy that music brings us. The hall was built 150 years after Colston’s death and not founded with any of his money.

Protesters throw statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally. (PA Images)

“We cannot continue to be a monument to his memory.

“We have no wish to forget the past, but when we reopen our redeveloped building as one of the best arts and educational venues in the country, it must be as a place that is welcoming to everyone.

Read more: Petition to replace Colston statue with one of anti-racism campaigner

“There is more to be done before we can announce our new name, and many of the actions that will follow won’t be so public. But today marks a big step on our journey and we are excited and hopeful as we look to our future.”

Last week, a tower named after Colston also had its signage removed.

Workmen take down the lettering on Colston Tower. (Tom Wren/SWNS)
Lettering was removed from the tower last week. (Tom Wren/SWNS)

Workers were seen taking letters from the top of the building, which contains offices and bars, on 11 June.

The BBC reported that a new name would be agreed with tenants, who were told the signage was being removed for security reasons.

Demonstrators tore down the statue of Colston on 1 June during a Black Lives Matter protest.

It was thrown into the harbour but has been recovered and is expected to be placed in a museum.