We Are Bristol History Commission

We Are Bristol History Commission

What is the We Are Bristol History Commission, background and members.

The We Are Bristol History Commission is an independent group who will:

  • help Bristol better understand its history and how it became the city it is today
  • work with citizens and community groups to make sure that everyone in the city can share their views on Bristol’s history
  • build an improved, shared understanding of Bristol’s story for future generations

This process will be facilitated by the commission asking questions of the city to start a conversation.

The first question the commission is asking is ‘what have we remembered?’

Background and scope of the commission

The commission was set up in September 2020 by Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, after the pulling down of the statue of Edward Colston in the summer. 

While the commission’s focus will initially consider the future of the statue as its first theme, in later questions the commission will consider:

  • history of slavery
  • growth of education
  • struggles of workers for pay and working conditions
  • Chartists and Suffragettes campaigning for emancipation
  • the key roles of wars
  • protests
  • harbour and the docks
  • manufacturing and industry
  • research and innovation
  • transport
  • slum clearances
  • housing
  • modern gentrification
  • migration and faith  

Current members of the We Are Bristol History Commission

The commission is made up of a wide range of professional historians and academics. These are from different specialist areas including philosophy, trade unions, arts and culture, and law.

The members are:

  • Dr Tim Cole: Professor of Social History, University of Bristol (Chair)
  • Dr Madge Dresser: Honorary Professor of History, University of Bristol
  • Dr Shawn Sobers: Associate Professor of Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice, University of West of England
  • Dr Joanna Burch-Brown:  Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Bristol
  • Professor David Olusoga: Professor of Public History, University of Manchester
  • Councillor Helen Godwin: Cabinet Member for Women, Families and Homes, Bristol City Council
  • Councillor Estella Tincknell: Associate Professor in Film and Culture, University of West of England
  • Dr Edson Burton: Writer and Historian
  • Nigel Costley: Regional Secretary, Trades Union Congress

View the Full biography of members (pdf, 655KB) (opens new window) .

Contact the commission


Meeting summaries and agendas

Email to request previous meeting minutes.  

Terms of reference

We Are Bristol History Commission terms of reference (pdf, 117KB) (opens new window)

We Are Bristol History Commission future website 

A separate website for the We Are Bristol History Commission is being developed. The commission’s information will be hosted here until the new website is ready.