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Bristol University's History Society calls for Goldney House to be renamed

History Society has urged the university to rename Goldney House due to its ‘tainted legacy’.

By Milan PereraDeputy Editor

The History Society of the University of Bristol has called for the university to rename Goldney House, a hall of residence and events venue.

The student society, which launched a petition last month, has highlighted the ‘tainted legacy’ of the building in question and reiterated that not renaming the building is ‘at odds with the inclusive values of the University of Bristol.’

Goldney House was one of seven buildings considered in the public consultation that lasted over 12 months. Following the findings of the consultation, Goldney House was not considered for renaming and retained its original name.

The University of Bristol History Society has launched a petition calling for Goldney House to be renamed - History Society

The university has pledged to invest £10m in its Reparative Futures programme to help address racial injustice. Last week the University of Bristol removed the emblem of Edward Colston, the dolphin, from its crest as ‘Colston was not a donor to the university and had no relationship with the institution or its predecessors.’

However, the university’s History Society has argued that the same logic could be applied to Thomas Goldney II as ‘Colston and Goldney are the same as they both have solely symbolic connections to the University and were involved in trafficking enslaved people.’

They have concluded that ‘Goldney, like Colston, is not part of the University’s history and therefore should be removed.’

Speaking to Epigram, Katie Poyner, President of the History Society at the University of Bristol said: ‘We, as History Society, think it's a very important topic that needs to be addressed. I would reiterate the core message of our petition that Goldney was directly involved in the traffic of enslaved people and didn't contribute any money towards the university, and the House/Hall should be renamed. The Goldney family is the same as Colston, yet has unjustly avoided scrutiny.’

The History Society drew its attention to the recently published University of Bristol’s Legacies of Slavery Report which indicates that Thomas Goldney II funded several voyages which trafficked enslaved Africans and the profits from the slave trade contributed towards the expansion and improvement of Goldney House.

A Q&A session on Legacies of Slavery Report - Milan Perera

Regarding this development, a University of Bristol spokesperson 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.’        

Featured image: University of Bristol

Do you agree that Goldney House should be renamed?