Bristol's slave-linked Colston Society to close down

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Protesters knelt on the neck of the bronze statue of Colston before the statue was lowered into the harbour

A charity that continued the philanthropic work of slave trader Edward Colston will close down by the end of the year.

The Colston Society, was founded in 1726. On Friday its 130 members voted to disband the group on 31 December.

One trustee, Alastair McArthur, said he hoped to set up a replacement organisation called the Redcliffe Charity to continue its important work.

The charity states in its governing document that it was set up to "assist with the social and educational needs in the Parish of St Mary Redcliffe".

As a merchant, Colston joined the Royal African Company in 1680.

During his time there, he was involved in decisions that saw 84,500 enslaved men, women and children transported by ship in horrendous conditions from Africa to the Americas. Some 19,300 died and were thrown overboard.

Colston also donated money to local schools and set up almshouses in the city for the poor.

Local landmarks were named after him and the community helped to raise money to build a statue to celebrate Colston's life.

Image caption,
The statue of Edward Colston was dragged through Bristol before being thrown into the harbour

Children's centre refurbishment

Campaigners spent decades calling for the statue to be removed and protesters at the Black Lives Matter rally took matters into their own hands and pulled it down in June.

The latest accounts from 2018 show the charity raised and spent £62,000, keeping £15,000 in reserves.

About £32,000 was spent on Outward Bound courses for pupils at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School.

Another £10,000 was spent on the appointment of a Community Youth Development Worker by St Mary Redcliffe and £20,000 was given to refurbish the new premises for Redcliffe Children's Centre.

The BBC has approached the campaign group, Countering Colston for comment.

Correction 15 September 2020: An earlier version of this article described the Colston statue as being symbolically lowered into Bristol harbour. However this was wrongly presented as a fact, rather than the view of some campaigners and so this line has been removed.

Correction 18 September 2019: This article has been amended to remove a line describing the Colston Society as the umbrella organisation for the Dolphin, Grateful and Anchor Societies.

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