Edward Colston statue will be pulled from harbour and put in museum, council says

10 June 2020, 14:16

The Edward Colston statue will be displayed in a museum
The Edward Colston statue will be displayed in a museum. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The toppled Edward Colston statue is to be retrieved from Bristol Harbour and displayed in a museum.

In a statement, the Council said the monument will be displayed alongside Black Lives Matter placards which were used by protesters on the day the monument was torn off its plinth in the city centre.

The monument, which once sat in central Bristol to mark Colston's philanthropic efforts, was pulled down over the weekend by Black Lives Matter demonstrators who highlighted his controversial history within the slave trade.

It was then rolled down the street and dumped into the harbour.

Marvin Rees, Bristol Mayor, has also announced the his city's true history will now be researched by a new commission, so people can better understand its story.

He said: "The events over the last few days have really highlighted that as a city we all have very different understandings of our past. The only way we can work together on our future is by learning the truth of our beginnings, embracing the facts, and sharing those stories with others. This is why this commission is so important.

The statue was topped from its plinth amid the Black Lives Matter protests
The statue was topped from its plinth amid the Black Lives Matter protests. Picture: PA
It will be displayed with placards from the protests
It will be displayed with placards from the protests. Picture: PA

“Bristol’s journey to become the modern city it is today includes a history of huge disparities of class, race and gender and the struggles for equality. Our history includes the growth of education, the struggles of workers for pay and working conditions, and Chartists and suffragettes campaigning for emancipation. 

"Our story includes the impacts that wars, protests, slavery and freedom have had on our citizens. Crucial to our heritage has been the harbour and the docks, manufacturing and industry, research and innovation, transport, slum clearances, housing, modern gentrification and faith. “Education of our history has often been flawed. More accuracy of our city’s history which is accessible to all will help us understand each other, our differences, our contradictions and our complexities.” 

 Now the plinth lies empty, there is also the question of what will happen to it. There have been suggestions to replace it with another statue, or have it be used for revolving art projects.

The final decision will be voted on by the city council.

Since the statue was brought down, the statue of slave owner Robert Milligan has also been removed in east London.

It has also lead to a number of landmarks and buildings to be renamed in the country, and Belgium tore down a statue of King Leopold II.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari about the incident, Labour leader Keir Starmer said the statue should have been "taken down a long, long time ago," although he did not agree in the way in which it was carried out.

He added: "You can't, in 21st century Britain, have a slaver on a statue [...]

"This was a man who was responsible for 100,000 people being moved from Africa to the Caribbean as slaves, including women and children, who were branded on their chests with the name of the company that he ran.

"Of the 100,000 people, 20,000 died en route and they were chucked in the sea."