Bristol Lord Mayor Removes 300-Year-Old Portrait of Slave Trader From her Office

Published June 19th, 2018 - 12:27 GMT
Cleo Lake removed a 300-year-old portrait of a slave trader from the wall above her desk (Twitter)
Cleo Lake removed a 300-year-old portrait of a slave trader from the wall above her desk (Twitter)

The Lord Mayor of Bristol has removed a 300-year-old portrait of a slave trader from the wall above her desk.

Cleo Lake said she 'simply couldn't stand' the sight of Edward Colston looking at her as she worked.

The portrait dates back to 1702 and was hung in 1953 when City Hall opened - but Cllr Lake has asked for it to be installed in a museum about the abolition of slavery.

Cllr Lake, who describes herself as of Scottish, Bristolian and Afro-Caribbean heritage, was elected in May by fellow councillors.

She said: 'I'm coming to the end of my first month in office, and this is my parlour, which is a lovely space.

'I spend a lot of time here - I'm here nearly every day. I won't be comfortable sharing it with the portrait of Colston.

 

Cleo Lake the new Lord Mayor of Bristol (Twitter)

 

'Luckily, there's been a lot of support and the council has agreed to take it down and today is the day it goes into storage.'

Cllr Lake said she wanted the portrait to be on public display again - but in a museum to Bristol's role in the slave trade, slavery and its abolition.

Colston, a divisive figure among the people of Bristol, played a key role in the original Royal Africa Company in the mid-to-late 17th century.

It turned the buying of slaves in West Africa, and the shipping of them to work on plantations in the Caribbean and North America, into an industrial-scale practice.

 

 

Historians estimate Colston was involved in the deaths of 20,000 people - including as many as 4,000 women and children - on board his slave ships in the late 17th century.

A local man, he opened access to slave trade routes to Bristol's merchants, and profited hugely from the forced trafficking of people over a number of decades. He later investing heavily in opening up slave trade routes through Asia.

A small portion of his fortune was given away to good causes in Bristol - setting up his own school and building almshouses.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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