Bristol church to replace Edward Colston windows with Bristol Bus Boycott

The Bristol Bus Boycott has been brought to life in a new stained glass window that is set to be installed at St Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol. Credit: St Mary Redcliffe Church

One of Bristol’s oldest churches is to replace a set of stained glass windows dedicated to Edward Colston with new designs that mark the Bristol Bus Boycott.

St Mary Redcliffe Church removed the four windows - which depicted the story of the Good Samaritan - after Colston’s city centre statue was pulled down during a protest in June 2020.

They invited members of the public to submit designs for its replacement, which were unveiled this week.

Bristol-based junior doctor and artist Ealish Swift, who won the competition, said her designs are inspired by the city’s “deep and complex history”.

Jesus features in each of the four new windows, which artist Ealish Swift said reflect Bristol's "deep and complex history". Credit: St Mary Redcliffe Church

Jesus features in each of the four windows, which include a depiction of the Bristol Bus Boycott.

"I am deeply honoured that my design has been chosen for this wonderful space that means so much to me,” Ealish said.

“I can't wait to work with the amazing Steve Clare to bring my ideas to life. I'm thrilled that my design seemed to resonate so much with the local community and I hope everyone will come to visit to see the final piece and experience everything this wonderful church, and community, has to offer!"

What was the Bristol Bus Boycott?

The Bristol Bus Boycott helped pave the way for the country's first race relation act Credit: ITV News West Country

The Bristol Bus Boycott happened in 1963, and is widely-regarded as Britain's own civil rights movement. 

While Martin Luther King was leading bus boycotts, marches and rallies in the US, a group of black Bristolians organised a boycott of the Bristol Bus Company because they were operating a 'colour bar' which effectively stopped black and Asian people from working on buses in Bristol.

The boycott lasted for much of the summer of 1963 and ultimately was successful - and also led directly to the Race Relations Acts that outlawed such overt discrimination in the 1960s and 1970s.

Campaigner Roy Hackett, who helped lead the boycott, died aged 93 earlier this month. He was described as an inspiration, a pioneer and an icon.