string(7) "bristol"

University of Bristol remove Edward Colston dolphin emblem with ties to slavery from logo

‘Understanding our logo requires recognition of our past, and the challenges it presents, to help shape where we would like to be in the future’

After the formal decision in December 2023 to remove the Coston emblem from the logo, Bristol University has unveiled the new design of the logo featuring a book of learning.

The new symbol of the open book is said to reflect the university’s core mission of education and learning.

The previous dolphin emblem, used from 2003 to 2024, paid tribute to the contributions of the Colston family, whilst the horse and sunlight emblems honouring the Fry and Wills family remain, along with the boat emblem that symbolises the City of Bristol.

Following a conversation with students, staff, and the local community surrounding the institution’s associations with the slave trade, the university decided to remove the dolphin emblem from the logo in November last year.

As part of the renaming consultation, the names of buildings named after the institution’s founders including the Fry and Wills families will remain but their historic links to the transatlantic trade of enslaved African people will be presented in their proper context.

The decision to remove Edward Colston from the logo was because of his lack of historical connection to the university, as well as his direct links to the trade in enslaved peoples.

Contrary to this, the Wills and Fry families both made significant donations to the university and their wealth was built from the trade of products made from enslaved labour like sugar, rather than directly trading enslaved peoples.

Colston was a 17th-century investor in the slave trade whose statue was toppled into the harbour during the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. He has no historical links to the university, hence the decision to remove his emblem from the logo.

As part of the decision to change the logo, the university announced a £10 million Reparative Futures programme to address racial injustices and tackle educational, health and economic inequalities.

Despite the renaming consultation concluding, the University of Bristol History Society has launched a petition to rename Goldney House, a hall of residence named after the Goldney family who have links to the transatlantic trade in enslaved peoples.

As well as this, the society has removed the university logo from its crest, citing its inclusion of the Wills and Fry family emblems. Although neither family traded enslaved peoples directly, both dealt with products like tobacco connected to enslaved labour.

Speaking to The Bristol Tab, the History Society said: “The Goldney Family have undeniable links to slavery.

“Thomas Goldney II funded several voyages which trafficked enslaved Africans, as written in the University of Bristol’s Legacies of Slavery Report.

“Profits from this immoral trade contributed towards the expansion and improvement of Goldney House. In addition, these profits funded the creation of manillas (a type of currency), which were used to trade for enslaved people.

“Goldney House has a tainted legacy, which is at odds with the inclusive values of the University of Bristol.”

A spokesperson for the University of Bristol said: “Goldney Hall has ties to the slave trade as the Goldney family funded several ships that took part in the triangular slave trade. But the Goldney family did not donate money to the university.

“The university bought Goldney Hall and its gardens in the 1950s, when the family was breaking up the estate. So, it is solely through this purchase that the university is associated with the Goldney family.

“In keeping with the decision to retain the names of the buildings that carry the Wills and the Fry names, we will also retain the name of Goldney Hall. This is to make sure that we represent our history most accurately.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Bristol Uni’s History Society launch petition to rename Goldney House due to slavery links

‘Say sorry to us, we’re waiting’: Natasha Abrahart’s parents call for apology from Bristol Uni