A school named after Edward Colston has been renamed after the 17th Century slave trader was toppled by Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters in June.
Colston’s Girls’ School (CGS) in Bristol will become Montpelier High School after a vote with current students and staff.
The school was established in 1891, 169 years after the death of Colston and was built with money he had endowed to support education.
The school’s name and association with Colston had been the subject of renewed public debate after his statue was toppled during a BLM protest after the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Demonstrations erupted in Britain and across Western societies after Floyd’s death, culminating in mass rallies in central London.
BLM activists have called for the defunding of police forces they accuse of ‘systemic racism’ and for an overhaul of UK culture including the removal of statues of imperial figures, the renaming of buildings and the ‘decolonisation’ of the curriculum.
Colston’s Girls’ School (CGS) in Bristol will become Montpelier High School after a vote with current students and staff. The school was established in 1891, 169 years after the death of Colston and was built with money he had endowed to support education
The statue of slave trader Edward Colston falls into the water after protesters pulled it down
Principal Kerry McCullagh told students at a virtual school assembly that they had ‘navigated a complex and emotional issue with skill and maturity’ and that they had ‘shown respect for others throughout the process, acknowledging that there are many views and opinions that reach far beyond the city’.
She said that the school is proud to be part of the Montpelier community and that the new name would allow the school to forge a new identity that represents its diverse and inclusive community.
The name is one of 10 that a working party of students developed earlier this year.
The names were presented to the Venturers Trust Board, which runs the school and shortlisted three for voting on.
From a choice of Montpelier, Liberty and Concordia; and College, High School and School, 62 per cent of votes favoured Montpelier High School.
Head student Betsy Maguire said: ‘It’s been incredible to be part of this process and to work alongside others on such a monumental project.
‘I am certain that there are students in this school who will change the world.
Principal Kerry McCullagh said the students had ‘navigated a complex and emotional issue with skill and maturity’ and that they had ‘shown respect for others throughout the process, acknowledging that there are many views and opinions that reach far beyond the city’
Colston’s statue was toppled by BLM protesters and dumped in Bristol harbour in June
Statue at University of Cambridge of 17th century royal adviser who helped its library buy their first books could be removed over his links to slave trade
A statue which commemorates a 17th century royal adviser who helped Cambridge University’s famous library buy its very first books faces being removed – because of his links to the slave trade.
Tobias Rustat, a favourite adviser to King Charles II, was the first benefactor of Cambridge University library in 1667.
He gave the library an endowment of £1,000 – equivalent to approximately £240,000 in today’s money – to be spent on books of its choosing.
As a result, Rustat was later memorialised by a small, late 19th century stone statue overlooking West Court at The Old Schools, the original site of the library.
However, the university is now reviewing whether the statue should be removed – due to Rustat’s links with the slave trade.
Rustat was a major investor in the 17th century slave trading company the Royal African Company (RAC) over a substantial period of time, including when he donated to the university library.
‘Be it through challenging opinions or championing ideals for the future, every single person here should feel proud of what they have achieved.’
A full rebrand of the non-selective academy is expected to take place in 2021.
Mrs McCullagh added: ‘We are conscious of the cost implication for our community of a school-wide rebrand.
‘Updating uniforms mid-way through a school year is not something we would ask parents to do.
‘We will now begin to work with a designer to develop our new visual identity and we would like to enjoy the experience, rather than rush it.
‘It will be a proud moment for us all when we begin our next academic year as Montpelier High School.’
In September, Avon and Somerset Police said it had asked prosecutors to consider charges against four people over the toppling of the Colston statue.
The bronze memorial was pulled down on June 7 and dumped in Bristol Harbour. It was later recovered by Bristol City Council.
There has been pressure on the Society of Merchant Venturers for several years over the name of Colston’s Girls’ School.
It was set up by the Society of Merchant Venturers in the 1890s as a girls’ alternative to the private Colston School, which was set up by slave trader Colston himself in 1610.
The Society of Merchant Venturers and the academy trust they run which runs the school resisted attempts by staff to set up a consultation in 2017 over the name, but the toppling of Colston’s statue triggered a new process.
In a statement, Chair of Governors Chris Patterson told MailOnline: ‘Inviting the students to shape and deliver the consultation and to have the final say on what the new name should be was certainly the right decision.
‘The students have conducted themselves with integrity throughout the entire process and they have been fantastic ambassadors for the school, displaying our core values of respect, responsibility, curiosity and resilience.
‘They will remember this experience for the rest of their lives and they have learnt valuable life skills that will help them in the future.’
David Watson, CEO of Venturers Trust, said: ‘CGS became an integral part of the debate over how to contextualise the past so that we learn lessons to create a better future. Students have made history today by choosing a new name to reflect their diverse and inclusive school community.’
Edward Colston: Beloved son of Bristol and wealthy slave trader
Edward Colston was integral in the Royal African Company, which had complete control of Britain’s slave trade
Edward Colston was born to a wealthy merchant family in Bristol, 1636.
After working as an apprentice at a livery company he began to explore the shipping industry and started up his own business.
He later joined the Royal African Company and rose up the ranks to Deputy Governor.
The Company had complete control of Britain’s slave trade, as well as its gold and Ivory business, with Africa and the forts on the coast of west Africa.
During his tenure at the Company his ships transported around 80,000 slaves from Africa to the Caribbean and America.
Around 20,000 of them, including around 3,000 or more children, died during the journeys.
Colston’s brother Thomas supplied the glass beads that were used to buy the slaves.
Colston became the Conservative MP for Bristol in 1710 but stood only for one term, due to old age and ill health.
He used a lot of his wealth, accrued from his extensive slave trading, to build schools and almshouses in his home city.
A statue was erected in his honour as well as other buildings named after him, including Colston Hall.
However, after years of protests by campaigners and boycotts by artists the venue recently agreed to remove all reference of the trader.
On a statue commemorating Colston in Bristol, a plaque read: ‘Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city.’
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US, the statue of Colston overlooking the harbour was torn down.
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