An excerpt if you can't be bothered scrolling through the whole thing..
'Despite the claims on the statue of Edward Colston and local myth, the idea of having a statue of to memorialise the ‘great benefactor’ did not come from popular demands by the “citizens of Bristol”. It was in fact the brainchild of one person, James Arrowsmith, president of the Liberal dominated Anchor Society. Arrowsmith was a wealthy businessman who owned the largest printing and publishing company in the city. In a speech to the Colston Fraternal Society in October 1893 he proposed that a statue should be erected and in March of the following year a fund raising committee was set up by officials of the four Colston commemoration societies, with Arrowsmith as honorary secretary.
The funding drive was a struggle from the very beginning. Despite issuing letters asking for donations from the combined membership of 1,550 of the four Colston societies, the first subscription list, announced in April 1894, raised only £201, less than a quarter of the total amount required. A second round of subscriptions in June doubled this to a £407, still well short of the £1,000 required. It was noted that “the members of the Colston societies were not too eager in the matter” so at this point the committee issued a public statement inviting “Citizens generally…to subscribe to the fund”. However, this seems to have been a complete flop, as by October of that year hardly any more money had been collected.
As a result of the disappointing showing amongst the Colston societies and the general public, in July 1894 a bitter letter of complaint (probably written by Arrowsmith himself) under the pseudonym In Statu Quo appeared in the Bristol Mercury. The majority of this letter is reproduced below:
Sir – We hear and read a great deal now about statueless Bristol, but we hope this will not be for long, as we are promised a very handsome monument in memory of Burke, in addition to which a fund has been started for the creation of a statue of Edward Colston, but it is very unsatisfactory to learn that the response to the appeal has not been by any means as liberal as it should have been; neither, indeed, has it come up to the amount that Bristolians usually give to ordinary movements.
In November each year we make a great blaze in honour of our greatest philanthropist, the leading statesmen of the day pay us a visit to do homage to the Bristol celebrity, and the press of the United Kingdom record at that period of the year the magnanimity of the citizens of Bristol in perpetuating Colston’s memory by lavish contributions to the aged and infirm and for the education of the rising generation, but when a request is made to them to put their hands in their pockets for a donation towards a statue towards one who was so good and great, what response is there? None whatever worthy of the old port of Bristol.
There is enough wealth in Bristol to erect 400 statues, if necessary, without so much begging and praying…Why two or three gentlemen are always saddled with the making up of deficiencies, whether for church, chapel, hospital, or school, I cannot comprehend; but it is the same old tale of working a willing horse to death.'
So as it turns out, it wasn't that popular in the first place.