A Century of Protest – Talk

Exploring the hidden history of dissent over Edward Colston’s status as a symbol of Bristol.

Talk by Roger Ball and Mark Steeds from Bristol Radical History Group.

Wednesday 23 November, 7pm – Café bar open from 6pm

In June 2020, the statue of Edward Colston in central Bristol was removed from its plinth by Black Lives Matter protestors and rolled into the waters of the Harbourside.

Some saw this as an isolated event – in fact it was the culmination of a century of protest against what was dubbed “the cult of Colston” in the city.

Roger and Mark will be talking about the foundations of opposition to Colston as a trader of enslaved persons and his reinvention as a Victorian icon.

They will explore the formation of the campaign group ‘Countering Colston’, which challenged both the physical commemoration and memorialisation in the city, looking beyond the headlines to reflect on the toppling of the statue and what might happen next.

Tickets for this talk are £5



Dr Roger Ball worked as an aerospace engineer in Bristol for more than 20 years before completing his doctorate in history at the University of West of England. A founding member of Bristol Radical History Group he has published on several subjects including urban riots, labour history, workhouses and more recently slavery and abolition. He is currently a research fellow at UWE studying the 1831 reform riots.

Mark Steeds is a former draughtsman and current publican of some 27 years, keen on trying to right old wrongs and especially interested in Bristol’s maritime and literary history. A long-time member of Bristol Radical History Group, in 2007 he wrote the group’s first pamphlet entitled Cry Freedom, Cry Seven Stars (about ‘the pub that changed the world’), co-authored Pirates and Privateers out of Bristol in 2010 and in 2020 From Wulfstan to Colston.

Details of publications:

Mark Steeds and Roger Ball, From Wulfstan to Colston: Severing the sinews of slavery in Bristol
(Bristol: Bristol Radical History Group, 2020) Paperback, 420 pages, 103 black & white and colour images and 4 maps.
RRP: £14.00. Available from Bristol Radical History Group here.

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John Wesley's New Room

John Wesley’s New Room is a heritage site in the heart of Bristol. It houses a museum, library, café, events and hire space. It is home to the original 18th century chapel that started the Methodist movement.

It also houses an award-winning Café and a vast reference Library. John Wesley’s New Room hosts a range of art, music and family events and is also available to hire.

Explore the Museum of John & Charles Wesley’s life and work in Bristol.

John Wesley’s New Room is the oldest Methodist building in the world, located right in the heart of Bristol city centre. Founded in 1739 by John Wesley, the New Room became the cradle of the worldwide Methodist movement.

This is the place that completes the story of Bristol. This is the Room that changed the World.

It is a place where everyone is welcome to explore, step back, take time, reconnect and recharge.

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