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University of Bristol unveils new logo removing Colston emblem

The University of Bristol launched its new logo yesterday, which saw the removal of the dolphin symbol associated with transatlantic slave trader Edward Colston.

By Sapphire Hope, Third Year, Politics and International Relations 

The University of Bristol launched its new logo yesterday, which saw the removal of the dolphin symbol associated with transatlantic slave trader Edward Colston.

Colston did not have a role in founding the University. The new logo launch comes after a decision made in November to remove Colston's emblem from the University's logo as part of the Reparative Futures programme.

New logo / University of Bristol

The dolphin has been replaced with a bookmark and moving pages as seen in the lower half of the modern University crest.

All other features of the logo will remain in place. This includes the boat in the top left-hand corner symbolising the early funders of the University, as well as the sun device belonging to the Wills family and the horse emblem representing the Fry family.

Although students will start to see the new logo around campus and online from this week onwards, the full switch will be gradual due to the cost and environmental impact of such changes.

For these reasons, it will take several years to entirely replace the old logo.

There are no plans to change the traditional coat of arms – or University crest – which still has Colston’s dolphin, although the University expects its use will be reduced over time.

Other merchandise featuring the new updated logo will be available for purchase from March onwards, however, the University has said there will be no expectation for items that feature the traditional crest to be discarded or replaced by students or societies.

In an email sent to SU society committee members, Evelyn Welch, Vice-Chancellor said that items with the new logo will be available to purchase from March.

She added: 'However, the choice is very much yours. There is absolutely no expectation that items featuring the traditional crest (or any other society logo) should be discarded or replaced.'

Fry Building / Dan Hutton

In a statement, the University of Bristol further clarified these decisions: 'Our crest was granted to the University alongside the Royal Charter in 1909. It is a heraldic device which you will continue to see around campus and reflects the history of the University.

'The book of learning which was previously referenced in the shape of the lower left and right segments of the logo is now reinforced and strengthened by the addition of moving pages and a bookmark. This image reflects the institution’s core mission - education and learning.  

'The decision to change the logo was made in November last year when the University announced its £10 million Reparative Futures programme. The funding will be used on projects to address racial injustice and collaborate on education and research initiatives to tackle educational, health, and economic inequalities building on work started by the University’s Anti-racism working group.  

The names of buildings named after the institution’s founders [including the Wills and Fry families] will be retained but their historic links to the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved African people will be presented in a proper context. Edward Colston was a 17th century investor in the slave trade whose statue was toppled into Bristol Docks during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. The University received no funding from Colston, who died nearly 200 years before the University was founded, but his personal emblem – the dolphin – formed part of the institution’s crest and modern logo.'

Featured image / University of Bristol

What do you think of the new logo?