It’s older than the Colston statue, founded by a Bristol ‘hero’, steeped in history, loved by fans and an icon of the city.
When the owners changed its name this spring, we expected hundreds of angry letters to the Bristol Post, furious radio phone-ins, angry debates on TV and Tory MPs and councillors threatening to boycott it. Instead there was silence … Not a fucking murmur.
To us, it is The County Ground, founded by cricket legend and Bristolian, W. G. Grace and home of Gloucester County Cricket Club since 1889. In March this year club members were informed, without warning, in an email that:
Gloucestershire’s home venue, the Bristol County Ground, has been renamed as the Seat Unique Stadium with immediate effect.No consultation with the fans; no debate; no thought of the history; just ‘fuck you’ it’s done. And what a shit name. The only plus is that it’s not named after some Arab dictatorship or Russian oligarch.
The last few years have been filled with bullshit as Colston lovers tried to defend the celebration and memorialisation of the slave trader in the city. They claimed ‘history was being erased’ by changing the name of the ex-Colston Hall. Why, when the County Ground is a far more popular, profitable and valid and not named after a slave-trader is there silence?
This stinks of hypocrisy. The owners of Gloucester County Cricket Club and slave-traders like Colston share the same values, they did it for the money.
Can we be among the first to welcome horrifying racist snob Evelyn “Rockerfeller” Welch MBE to Bristol as the new Vice-Chancellor of the city’s wealthiest education corporate, the University of Bristol? Harvard educated US citizen, Evelyn’s down home credentials include being “a scholar of the Renaissance and Early Modern Period” and Provost and Senior Vice President at King’s College London.
The rest of the press has wet its pants with excitement because Evelyn is the mother of Florence Welch. She’s singer with posh band Florence and the Machine whose bland wailing is heavily promoted on rotation by the corporate music biz and is exactly the kind of posh shite for wankers that punk rock was created to destroy.
What the press isn’t telling you, however, is that Evelyn has run into a spot of bother at Kings College over a statue there of a slaver. Thomas Guy had links with the Spanish slave trade in the 17th century, which earned him £400 million in today’s money and his statue takes pride of place at the university. Seventy-five per cent of the student body told Evelyn as the mastermind of the university’s ‘People & Culture’ strategy and head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion to get rid, which she hasn’t done.
Instead Evelyn demonstrated the kind of empathy only a Harvard education can provide. She announced, while on a panel of self-regarding snobs talking about ‘Statues and the Public Space’ at a ‘History Matters’ conference in London, that if students didn’t like the statue they should just “walk around it”! What a shame Evelyn wasn’t in Bristol two years ago to tell Black Lives Matter protestors that they should just walk around the city’s statue of Edward Colston.
Why is our city’s establishment importing yet more elitist racist dross into our city to replace the racist dross we already had?
All white! What a lovely picture of THE SOCIETY OF MERCHANT VENTURERS sat on their racist arses sporting self-awarded medals at Venturers Hall, Clifton. But what’s the problem with this private membership club for evil old farts with lots of money? Well, over the last few years, the venturers or their members have:
Prevented a corrective plaque going on the statue of their hero, Edward Colston, explaining his role in the slave trade, his religious chauvanism, his political party affiliation and how many children he murdered for money.
Venturer’s Trust chair Anthony Browne mysteriously quit in 2019 soon after potentially defaming anti-racist Colston campaigners.
Used their unelected role on the council’s Downs Committee to unlawfully allow Bristol Zoo to use the Downs as a car park. Then used a large undisclosed six figure sum of council taxpayers money to unsuccessfully defend their actions in court.
Provided a character reference for Alistair “Pervy” Perry in 2016, at the trial of this former Colston Girls School Headteacher, where he was convicted of indecently assaulting a girl from his church group in Weston-super-Mare.
Until 2016, arranged sick celebrations for children at their schools of Edward Colston’s life. Hosted by the Bishop of Bristol at the city’s cathedral.
Public sector looter, First Bus boss, Trevor “Grubby” Smallwood, received an Honorary Doctorate from UWE for “entrepreneurial and charity work”. In 2009 Smallwood had to pay £2.7m in Corporation Tax after attempting to dodge the tax via a trust fund he temporarily based in Mauritius. Coincidentally in 2014, UWE vice Chancellor Steve “The Chiropodist” West, became a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers.
Appointed Gillian “The Sewage Queen” Camm, a former Director of Wessex Water, as their “Master” last year. Returning to our turd metaphor, Ms Camm earned some of her wealth by tipping shit in our rivers.
Is it time for this gang of self-serving amoral tossers to take Colston’s advice – “Go and do thou likewise” – and drown in the docks?
What do you get if you combine a committee of snooty academics from the University of Bristol with a committee of time-serving Labour Party Hacks? THE BRISTOL HISTORY COMMISSION!
This ongoing FARCE, set up by the Reverend Rees in the wake of the Colston statue dethroning, has lurched from PRCOCK-UP to PR DISASTER and now seems to be aiming to achieve all-out city-wide LAUGHING STOCK status.
The Commission got off to bad start with lots of people from across the city when its newly appointed Chair – who no one had ever heard of – University of Bristol History Professor Tim “OWN GOAL” Cole, decided, after a phone call with the CPS over the summer, that his Commission would COLLABORATE with the Avon & Somerset Police and become part of the criminal justice system.
Own Goal, we learn, UNILATERALLY made the dubious decision – of questionable academic ethics – that his commission would be part of the PUNISHMENT for protestors who hauled down the Colston statue and got conditionally cautioned by police for criminal damage. Prof Own Goal agreed to oversee a questionnaire where protestors would set out their reasons for their actions. Remarkably, most members of the commission only learned of Own Goal’s dodgy decision when they read about it in the Guardian on 18 September!
Own Goal’s next brilliant wheeze was to get some interns in to do the commission’s work for them because all these very important people are “TOO BUSY“. Own Goal personally advertised the internships – exclusively for University of Bristol post grads – at £10 PER HOUR funded by his Brigstowe Institute who, we’re told, receive money from, er … Wait for it … the MERCHANT VENTURERS, the city’s loathsome Colston cultists and dodgy statue enthusiasts!
Own Goal’s ad immediately came to the attention of #shitjobwatch, who monitor “very precarious or exploitative University of Bristol jobs”. They described the four internships as a “FIRST CHOICE” example of such practices. What does History Commission member and head of the South West TUC Nigel Costley have to say about that then?
And finally, when is Own Goal going to get off the phone to the Guardian, get his arse in gear and answer the simple set of questions about his commission sent to him last August by the Bristol Radical History Group?
We are happy to confirm as correct rumours circulating that the Colston corrective plaque created in 2018 was actually CAST and READY TO HANG. The finalised plaque, a work of censorship and fake history by the Merchant Venturers ‘historian’ Francis “The Overseer” Greenacre that was forced on the local historians and school children invited to create the wording on the plaque, was cast by Wards Signs of Barton Hill in 2019. However, it seems to have DISAPPEARED.
What’s happened to this intriguing and valuable historical artefact that casts the MERCHANT VENTURERS and their pro-Colston racist elite friends and supporters around the city in a less than favourable light? The answer lies with Myers-Insole Local Learning Community Interest Company who were generously FUNDED BY THE COUNCIL to manage the creation of the plaque. Alongside his wife, Peter ‘Arse’ Insole, the city’s Principal Historic Environment Officer, is a director of Myers Insole, which is a very cosy arrangement between a council officer and public money isn’t it?
So is Arsehole planning on keeping this valuable piece of public property and important historical artefact as part of his PENSION PLAN? If not, perhaps he could urgently hand over our significant historical artefact he has no business with to the city’s museum service? What a potentially great display item it would make sitting alongside the original wording for the plaque that the Venturers sabotaged.
And what a story it would tell about the city’s wealthy elitists in the early 21st Century.
Since Colston came off his pedestal and went for a swim on June 7th social media, TV and the press have been dominated by politicians, journalists and so-called ‘community spokespeople’ gushing with praise for the statue coming down.
The Mayor’s Office even banged on in a press statement that the Reverend Rees had an audience of 10 million around the world, from Bangladesh to Tokyo after Colston’s ‘burial at sea’. However, while seizing this new opportunity for pontificating, Rees conveniently failed to give a toss about the people who had put him on the world stage. That was the 17 or so demonstrators who had been identified under Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s orders to “get these people” – the statue topplers.
So as Rees was boring the masses in Bangladesh, Avon & Somerset Police were being forced to line up charges of criminal damage that could put the protestors away for up to 10 years. And what did Rees do? Intervene at the Council for the good of the city and agree not to press charges, allowing the cops to give two fingers to Patel? Like fuck he did … Far better to bathe in the glare of global publicity and forget about those who put him there.
Campaigners who have fought for many years for the Colston statue to be removed and to get a permanent memorial to the victims of slavery in the City have been astounded by the two-faced hypocrisy of these turncoats. Rees told Points West:
“When I first came in, myself and a number of black people in the creative sector said that the best thing to do is to keep that [Colston] debate away from me.”
So Mr Civil Rights’s major contribution to the struggle to get the Merchant Venturers pet slave trader off our streets and schools was not just to do nothing but to actively discourage others from getting involved.
When calls came to change the name of the Colston Hall in 2017 Rees was silent, refusing to make his position clear until he was caught like a rabbit in the headlights at the end of a TV programme. Martin Luther King, who Rees idolises, must be turning in his grave.
In 2019 after the Merchant Venturers had spent months sanitising the wording on a plaque for the statue that was meant to correct the history of Colston, Rees only intervened to avoid becoming a laughing stock. Finally using some of his executive power to block the Venturer’s sanitised plaque before heading to the hills faster than Dominic Cummings in a top of the range Land Rover, leaving the project in limbo for over a year.
Meanwhile Rees’s second in command Asher Craig’s hardly covered herself in glory in dealing with persistent calls by campaigners for a permanent memorial to remember the victims of the trans-atlantic slave trade. Bristol lags far behind other ports like Liverpool and Nantes in France that were involved in the ‘vile trade’ and have made major efforts to both memorialise the victims and tell the history – warts and all.
One historian from Bristol University stated in a meeting with Asher Craig in March 2019 “that Bristol’s reputation abroad, when referring to the city’s response to its slaving past, was very bad”. He also said that Bristol shouldn’t limit its ambitions regarding a slavery museum, “the city should think big and be better than Liverpool”.
Bristol City Council have missed opportunities to right this embarrassing wrong many times. In 1996 around the Festival of the Sea, in 1999 when the Respectable Trade exhibition was launched, in 2007 with the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade and again in 2015 when the Colston protests began.
In 2017 campaigners from three groups and local residents proposed the Abolition Shed project, which wanted to convert two council-owned warehouses on Welsh Back into a memorial for the victims of the African slave-trade with a visitor centre to tell the history. When they approached Asher Craig to get support from Bristol City Council she basically told them to clear off and get some private funding.
Despite this slap in the face campaigners continued the fight to halt the council’s proposed development of the warehouses into more restaurants and bars and to finally do something. This persistence and enthusiasm by unpaid Bristolians who gave a fuck about the memorial, the history and the city’s reputation was clearly starting to annoy Rees and Craig.
In August 2019 Marvin angrily demanded to know “who the campaigners were” and in response to their proposals cited a record in office of being amazing, without, of course, any concrete commitment to a memorial and museum. Asher was even more furious claiming“the City was now taking this seriously” and accusing the campaigners of being “bullies”. One local historian from the Counter-Colston group commented:
“Despite the fact that it is just not true, for Asher to characterise people as ‘bullies’ who have, without ‘funding’ and political power given lots of time and energy over several years to try to get something done after decades of failure, is disgraceful.”
Needless to say the Abolition Shed project was strangled at birth by Rees, Craig and the Council as they voted to turn the warehouses into pizza restaurants whilst wasting a million quid on moving a barge to appease the developers. Another missed opportunity in Bristol’s tradition of failure.
Asher’s only response to persistent demands for a memorial was to set up a ‘roundtable’, which descended into the usual talking shop while those who wanted to get a concrete commitment from the Council were seen as ‘troublemakers’.
It is also no surprise that Marvin’s response to Colston’s statue coming down was to propose a ‘history commission’. Looking into the “true history of the city”, which sounds like another opportunity for free-loading academics to fail to do anything.
So here we are, kicking the can down the road again….
Edward Colston! Denis Burn! John Savage! Colin Skellett! Francis Greenacre! The Bishop of Bristol! That Twat of a Vicar from St Mary Redcliffe! The One They Call the Master! Caroline Duckworth – can you hear me Caroline! Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!’
After years of members of the public working hard at grassroots organisations like COUNTER COLSTON and the BRISTOL RADICAL HISTORY GROUP, the thieving old white men who run the University of Bristol have finally woke(n) up and appointed a PROFESSOR OF THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY. They will “examine Bristol’s connection to the transatlantic slave trade”. Work that has already, largely, BEEN DONE by our city’s grassroots historians anyway.
The university old boys have hired Sorbonne-educated hack, Olivette
Otele, with a press fanfare that has somehow eluded less prestigious local
historians tackling the same subject without THE ELITE EDUCATION, the ‘DIVERSE’
BACKGROUND and a PROFESSIONAL PR
DEPARTMENT talking them up.
Anyway, won’t it be interesting to see whether Olivette, who lists
“memorialisation of the past” as an interest, publicly demands the IMMEDIATE REMOVAL of Colston’s statue
from the Centre? Or will she piss arse
about ‘NUANCING‘ in the elite-style,
making CRAP EXCUSES and rambling on
about ‘corrective plaques’ and the like?
The Reverend’s FAILED EFFORT to put a ‘corrective plaque’ on the statue of Colston to highlight the dodgy merchant’s leadership role in the slave trade was managed by Peter “Arse” Insole, the council’s architectural officer. Initially Arsehole let local historian Madge “The Doc” Dresser devise some words for the new plaque with the help of children from COTHAM GARDENS PRIMARY SCHOOL (formerly Colston’s Primary).
However, left entirely UNSUPERVISED to do what the hell he liked, Arsehole soon went over to the dark side and allowed the Merchant Venturers and their arselicking friends in Clifton to DRASTICALLY REWRITE The Doc’s plaque until it became a MEANINGLESS PIECE OF MUMBO JUMBO that the Reverend finally had to bin as not fit-for-purpose.
Now it’s come to our attention, that in order to assist the Doc with her pointless work with local children, Arsehole PERSONALLY PROCURED a specialist private education firm, MYERS-INSOLE LOCAL LEARNING COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY. And, by amazing coincidence, the SECRETARY and DIRECTOR of the firm, according to Companies House, just happens to be, er, Peter Insole while the only other director is one Ruth Myers, Arseholes partner! How convenient for his personal bank account that Arsehole’s RIGOROUS PROCUREMENT PROCESS should throw up his own firm as best placed to do the job.
Although it’s a shame that it’s not only against all known council rules for Arsehole to procure his own company for his own financial benefit but also against the law.
Efforts to add a so-called ‘corrective plaque’ to Edward Colston’s statue on the Centre have descended into farce thanks to INTERFERENCE from our local bat shit crazy rich mans’ club, the SOCIETY OF MERCHANT VENTURERS, desperate to defend the reputation of their slave trading hero.
The idea behind a corrective plaque was to stop the constant – and often entertaining – VANDALISM of the statue by members of the public. Over the years we’ve woken up to find the statue yarn bombed, with its face painted white, with graffiti scrawled across it and with various corrective plaques superglued to it, usually LISTING COLSTON CAREER HIGHLIGHTS the current plaque misses out.
To address this, last year, the council hired historian Dr Madge Dresser to work with young people to produce a second plaque for the statue. Plenty of ideas came back highlighting Colston’s role in the SLAVE TRADE as well as aspects of his political, religious, charitable and business life that are OVERLOOKED on the existing plaque from the Victorian era.
Dr Dresser delivered her ideas to Peter “Arse” Insole, an architectural officer at the council and then the trouble started. The Venturers immediately employed AMATEUR HISTORIAN Francis Greenacre to LOBBY Insole on their behalf and an unknown number of private meetings between Insole and Greenacre with neither notes nor minutes retained have taken place.
Now, we’re reliably informed, the following information will definitely not appear on any new plaque: any reference to Colston being a TORY; any mention of the SOCIETY OF MERCHANT VENTURERS; the number of children TRANSPORTED by Colston’s ships; the number of children who DIED on Colston’s ships; any mention of Colston’s religious and political BIGOTRY; any mention of Colston’s involvement in the SPANISH SLAVE TRADE and any mention of his INSIDER TRADING in South Seas Company.
Never mind, we’ll all just have to go back to vandalising the Venturer’s reactionary monstrosity instead.