Protest Over Concert Hall’s Name

A Bristol protest group wants the city to change the name of the Colston Hall because the man it was named after was a slave trader.

Artists For A Name Change says the concert venue, which is currently undergoing a £20 million redevelopment, say 2007 is the perfect year to call the building something else as it’s exactly two centuries since the slave trade was abolished.

Colston’s name is almost synonymous with Bristol. The 17th century philanthropist, who made his fortune as a shipping merchant, is commemorated in such city landmarks as Colston Tower, Colston Hill, Colston Street, Colston’s Girls’ School and Colston’s Collegiate School. He’s also remembered in local schools every November 13, which is known as "Colston’s Day."

But a few acts, including the local Massive Attack, have refused to play Colston Hall because of his association with the slave trade. A city centre statue of Colston is regularly defaced.

Colston Hall manager Graeme Howell told BBC News it was incredibly important that the topic gets some kind of resolution this year.

"I think it’s a very important debate to have and it’s a great year to have that debate," he said, voicing his concern that some communities feel they aren’t able to go to the venue.

A representative for Artists For A Name Change said the name matters more as it is a publicly funded building.

The BBC’s online news service also quoted Roz Martin from the campaign group saying, "You hear a lot of statements of regret, and what Bristol is doing in particular to get black minority citizens more involved with city life.

"This is an example of something it could do. It’s not just for black citizens, it’s about all of us taking pride in the city."

The new name for the Broadmead shopping centre, Merchant’s Quarter, was changed to Cabot Circus after residents found the merchant name offensive because it glorified the city’s historic slave trading past.