Bristol school to remove slave trader’s name from house

The head teacher of a secondary school says it will remove Colston as a house name for the next school year.

The names of the five houses at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol are all linked to white males, but will now be changed to “reflect diversity”.

Edward Colston made his fortune through slave trading, as well as bequeathing thousands to charitable causes.

Head teacher Elizabeth Gilpin said:

“We cannot change the past. but we can change the future.”

In a newsletter to parents and pupils, she wrote: “Role models matter to people when they are growing up.

“We want every young person, whatever their gender, ethnic background and family income, to know that they can aspire to any number of careers and roles in society.”

The changes mean that Colston House becomes Johnson House after Katherine Johnson, who worked for NASA as a mathematician.

St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School
St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School. Image copyright: Geograph.

The other houses will be named after George Müller, who was famous for setting up orphanages in Bristol; Eric Liddell, the Scottish 400m Olympic champion featured in Chariots of Fire; Olaudah Equiano, who played a major role in the anti-slavery movement; and Rosalind Franklin who took the key X-ray crystallography photo that established the structure of DNA.

Mrs Gilpin added: “This has not come from a position of ‘political correctness gone mad’, but from a genuine desire to have role models with interesting stories which demonstrate our values.”

Between 1672 and 1689, Colston’s ships are believed to have transported about 80,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas.

His memory has been honoured in Bristol for centuries.

But in recent years campaigners have called for the role he played in the slave trade to be acknowledged.

The school’s decision comes as demolition begins on a concert venue bearing Colston’s name.

First Published 11.02.19:

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