Colston Hall Officially Renamed Bristol Beacon After Three-Year Campaign

Colston Hall Officially Renamed Bristol Beacon After Three-Year Campaign

September 24, 2020

Colston Hall has been renamed Bristol Beacon in order to give "a fresh start for the organisation and its place in the city," according to the Bristol Music Trust. The venue was previously named after Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader who amassed a fortune working for the Royal African Company, which is believed to have transported approximately 80,000 people from Africa to the Americas.

Renaming the venue has been a long time coming after a three-year process kicked off in April 2017 following protests by civil rights campaigners as well as Massive Attack, who famously refused to perform at the venue because of its name.

It is acknowledged that Colston was once eulogised and now the Bristol Music Trust seek to clarify that people of his ilk should no longer be celebrated given their crimes against humanity. This comes after Colston's statue was toppled in June, considered a seminal moment in the UK's race relations. Deputy Mayor Craig Cheney has said renaming the venue "runs in parallel with the city conversion reflecting on our history and how this understanding can be represented in our future".

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, said some claimed the venue was seeking to "erase and censor" history. However, she added that a new name was in the public interest. Slavery and imperialism are aspects of British history that should not be acclaimed, and so it important that strong public stances are taken against such.

Given the rich Black history within music, it is the duty of such venues like the Bristol Beacon to eradicate attitudes on race of yesteryear. A new name and new logo promises to be the turn of the proverbial corner for Bristol, and would be "a symbol of hope and community", Mitchell added.

Words: Ian Opolot
Photography: Dominika Scheibinger