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Edward Colston statue contained hidden magazine from 125 years ago,...

by Tabitha Wynn (2020-06-15)

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is?ONG-7_eT_hyX0oml824Apk15MCad_A1kCqWUFA magazine hidden in the coat-tails of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol has been discovered 125 years later.

The copy of Tit-Bits magazine was found when the toppled monument to the slave trader was retrieved from the city's harbour on Thursday.

It was carefully cleaned and dried, revealing handwritten notes of who had fitted the statue and the date - October 26 1895.

'Tit-Bits' was an enormously popular weekly magazine launched in 1881 by George Newnes. It presented a diverse range of 'tit-bits' of information in an easy-to-read format, focussing on human interest stories, as well as fiction, poetry and humour. website

— Bristol Uni Library (@BristolUniLib) June 12, 2020

Protesters pulled down the statue during a Black Lives Matter march in Bristol on Sunday before throwing it into the harbour.

Bristol City Council has confirmed the statue, complete with graffiti and some of the rope used to bring it down, will go on display in the M-Shed museum along with placards from the protest.

In a Twitter thread, the team at M-Shed said: "Despite only being in the water for a few days, mud had filled the inside and obscured the evidence of its journey into the harbour.

"We spent the morning removing mud from its inside with a hose and extendable brush.

"The painted graffiti was particularly at risk from the cleaning so this was done very carefully to ensure it wasn't washed off."

They added: "The symbolism of his graffitti'd body has been preserved and the significance it has for us will be an important story to tell.

"We ended up with two surprise additions. Firstly a bicycle tyre which emerged from the harbour with the statue, and then the discovery of a clue to the people who first installed it in Bristol: A 1895 magazine rolled up inside the coat tails.

"After careful cleaning and drying we found someone had handwritten the names of those who originally fitted the statue and the date on the inside pages."

The Edward Colston statue was removed from the harbour this morning.

Despite only being in the water for a few days, mud had filled the inside and obscured the evidence of its journey into the harbour.

— M Shed (@mshedbristol) June 11, 2020

Bristol University's Library detailed how Tit-Bits was a popular weekly magazine, launched in 1881 by George Newnes.

It focused on human interest stories as well as fiction, poetry and humour.

The Society of Merchant Venturers (SMV) - which plays an active role in managing three institutions that bear Colston's name - issued a lengthy statement on Thursday.

"The use of Edward Colston's name on buildings, streets, landmarks and institutions is a divisive topic in Bristol," the SMV said.

"It undoubtedly provides a stark reminder of Bristol's troubled past and the brutality of the slave trade.

"It also causes great offence and distress to many of Bristol's citizens.

"As a city, we must explore whether there are more appropriate and powerful ways to acknowledge and remember Bristol's past and its role in the transatlantic slave trade."

The society said it shares a determination for Bristol to become an inclusive, sustainable and successful city and is examining how it can "accelerate" its part in that.

It described the schools sponsored by SMV as inclusive and diverse, and acknowledged the name Colston "does not always sit comfortably".

"This is something that we have reviewed together regularly and whilst it is not a change that should be taken lightly, it is certainly something that we are looking at again," it said.

"The view of the school communities will be central to how the discussion moves forward."

On Thursday, lettering spelling out Colston Tower was removed from the building.

A commission of historians and other experts is to be set up in Bristol to consider the city's past and share its stories, the council announced on Wednesday.

Decisions on what will happen to the plinth where Colston's statue stood will be made "democratically through consultation", Mayor Marvin Rees said.


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