History walk 1: Wulfstan to Colston and the sinews of slavery

An abolition walk

Starts and leaves outside of the front of M Shed. Our first stop will be outside of the Merchant Venturers’ Almshouses (at the Broad Quay end of King Street), where the Merchant Venturers successfully petitioned for Bristol’s involvement in the ‘African Trade’ in 1698. We will cross Queen Square to Redcliffe Street and on to the Seven Stars. This will feature Abolitionists Thomas Clarkson, Wulfstan and the Quakers. On into Castle Park and Colston’s sugar refinery, past All Saints (where Edward […]

The National Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

A Small Island Museum with a Big Story

  If you walk down Market Street in St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, you will come across a grand stone building that was once the court house and now known as the Old Court House. It was built in 1747 on the site of the first city market, and to its pride is the oldest building still in use in the city. The Old Court House was designed by prominent English-born architect, Peter Harrison and financed by a tax levied on Antigua’s slave owners. It has become the perfect home […]

The Edward Colston ‘corrective’ plaque

Sanitising an uncomfortable history

Introduction Just over a year ago a project was launched to research, design and install a ‘corrective’ plaque on the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol City Centre. It was claimed by the originator of the idea, Bristol City Council’s Principal Historic Environment Officer, that the new version was needed to stop the statue being damaged by unauthorised ‘protest plaques’. Several of these have been fixed to the statue over the last couple of years and removed by Bristol City Council. It […]

Myths within myths…

Edward Colston and that statue

In the light of recent moves to place a ‘corrective’ plaque on the statue of Edward Colston in the centre of Bristol and calls for it to be removed to a museum it seems the time is right to investigate the origins of this monument and the claim emblazoned on it that it was: Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city Looking into the history of the statue demonstrates the same myth making that has characterised the popular memory of […]

Should society memorialise a Slave Trader?

The curious story of Brecon Town Council and the Plaque in honour of Captain Thomas Phillips, Slave Trader (circa 1664-1713).

If you were to walk around the rear side of the former house and home of Captain Thomas Phillips in Brecon, located along Captains Walk, you will notice a rather handsome slate plaque memorialising his life. The Phillips’ family house is now St Ursula’s Convent, a former catholic school. The plaque was paid for by the people of Brecon, and was erected (though not without controversy), in 2010. It reads innocently enough: CAPTAIN THOMAS PHILLIPS Havard House, Brecon First made this Captain’s Walk […]

‘The Lion of the Occasion’: Frederick Douglass in Bristol

miscellaneous 2018 poster
In the summer of 1846 the famous American abolitionist Frederick Douglass took to the stage of the Victoria Rooms in Bristol, enthralling his thousands-strong audience with vivid denunciations of slavery. He was feted by the mayor and received great support from the people of the city, maintaining friendships with many of those he met for the rest of his life. Douglass biographer Laurence Fenton will discuss the background to and details of the great abolitionist's visit to Bristol in a talk at […]

Frederick Douglass in Bristol

Time for the African-American Abolitionist’s Visit to the City to be Commemorated with a Heritage Plaque?

After the Frederick Douglass event in the city on Bank Holiday Monday (28 May, 2018) in which BRHG members took part and which drew several hundred people we are publishing this article by Laurence Fenton. Laurence has just written a new book on the African American abolitionist's visits to Victorian Britain and is calling for a more permanent memorial to this important moment in the history of the city and the struggle against slavery. BRHG fully support this initiative. While actions from the […]

Petition to give Bristol a slave trade memorial & Abolition Shed on Welsh Back NOT another bar!

Sign the petition. Throughout time Bristol has played a key role in events, ideas and literature that have shaped people’s freedom and parliamentary reform. Previously these topics have been neglected because they don’t quite fit the national narrative. The narrative has to change for the 21st Century. By recognising this there’s a great chance Bristol can lead the way. For a fleeting moment there’s a golden opportunity to make it happen; a vital retelling of the role Bristol has played on the […]

Joshua Fitch and Colston’s Girls’ School

The school the Merchant Venturers never wanted...

Introduction On 11th November 2017 Colston's Girls’ School (CGS) announced that they would not be changing the name of the school, despite its associations with Edward Colston, the Bristol merchant who both organised and profited from the transatlantic slave trade. Colston was a major investor, manager and then deputy-governor of the Royal African Company (RAC) which held a monopoly over the West African slave-trade in the seventeenth century.] During Colston’s time managing and then leading the […]

History Walk: Edward Colston

Why is our city dominated by this man’s legacy?

Meet at 11.30am Redcliffe Caves, Phoenix Wharf, Redcliffe Way, Bristol BS1 6SR Walk ends at Bristol Cathedral at 1.30pm (approx.) After popular demand the Countering-Colston group are re-running their recent history walk. Starting with St Mary Redcliffe church, this walk takes in other historic Diocese of Bristol churches in the city centre where ‘the life and work’ of Edward Colston is still provided religious legitimacy on an annual basis. Along the way we will share the most recent historical […]

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