Bristol Radical History Group

Since 2006 & Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) have organised a bewildering range of history events; staging walks, talks, gigs, reconstructions, films, exhibitions, trips through the archives and fireside story telling. We also publish a range of pamphlets and host an archive on this website.

Bristol Radical History Group events are organised by local people from Bristol and are NOT funded by Universities, Political Parties, Business or Local Government. To break even we rely on donations from the audience at meetings and the sale of books.

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Summer 2016

summer-1916-posterThose who had opposed the war in 1914 were joined by opponents of conscription when it was introduced in January 1916.  After almost two years of sporadic fighting, July 1916 saw the start of the Battle Of The Somme. These events mark the centenary of this new stage in the war. Read More...

Have you a Conchie in the family?

Whiteford brothersDozens of men from Bristol were imprisoned as conscientious objectors during World War 1. Are you related to any of them? Read more...

Walter Ayles Plaque

Walter Ayles Blue Plaque InviteWalter Ayles was Bristol’s most prominent opponent of WW1. In 1916 he was imprisoned for distributing a pamphlet against conscription. On his release he was immediately conscripted and re-imprisoned until 1919 for refusing to accept military service.  Read More...

100 Fishponds Road

Front Cover100 Fishponds Rd. Life and Death in a Victorian Workhouse. The research that found out about the 4000 people buried in unmarked graves at the Eastville Workhouse burial ground. This pamphlet is current sold out but a second edition will be available soon.

Recent Books

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WuMing 54 Cover

What does the Italian/ American mafia, the Italian Communist Party, Cary Grant, Field Marshal Tito, the KGB, and a McGriffin TV have in common? Well read this book and you will […] More

Eric Hobsbawn: Socialist Historian

This publication by The Socialist History Society is a record of a special event in 2013 to celebrate and assess the work of the late Marxist and historian, Professor Eric […] More

Angela Remembered

Angela Remembered

Rosie MacGregor remembers Angela, that is Angela Gradwell Tuckett (1906-1994); a stalwart Communist, an all-round radical and something of a Renaissance woman. I’ll call her simply […] More

A Girl Among the Anarchists

Meredith Girl Among the Anarchists

From its advent as a modern worldview anarchism was always too pure a faith to be properly judged by the conduct of its adherents and practitioners. Or so it would seem from A Girl […] More

City Under Fire

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From Dreadnought Books The riots of 1831 gripped the city of Bristol for three days at the end of October. Most general histories of the city include some reference to this […] More

Central Labour College

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Written by William Craik a railway guard who got kicked out of Ruskin College, Oxford and was then the principal of the CLC in the early 1920s The Central Labour College schooled a […] More

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

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G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday not only draws upon the historic stigmatisation of anarchists but also self-consciously explores and develops the caricature. The novel […] More

A Child of the Jago

A child of jago

Arthur Morrison’s 1890’s novel A Child of the Jago is set in the slum courts of London’s East End. Life in the Jago is a Hobbesian war of all against all, a socialist Darwinist […] More

Anarchy In A Cold War

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Anarchy In A Cold War is set in divided Berlin in 1981. But Berlin is far more divided than just the Cold War divisions of East and West. The book centres on the squatter culture […] More

The Nightmare Trail

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Scenes from the Life of Poet and War Casualty: FW Harvey The poet FW Harvey (1886-1957) spent the last thirty years of his life in Yorkley in the Forest of Dean. I was brought up […] More

Dreaming A City

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This book describes the making of the 1991 TV documentary ‘Hughesovka and the New Russia, Dreaming a City’ created by the author and the Welsh historian Gwyn Alf Williams. Focusing […] More

Charles Booth’s Policemen

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The recorded crime rate in the East End of London fell during the period of 1875 until 1900. The rate of common assaults, aggravated assaults, and assaults on the police fell from […] More

Recent Articles

Walter Ayles

Walter Ayles 1945

If I believed in the efficacy of slaughter to remedy evils, I would long ago have advocated the killing of those who, year after year, have been responsible for the sweated, the […] More

100 Fishponds Road

Eastvillle Workhouse

In 2015, the Eastville Workhouse Memorial Group unveiled a memorial for the 4,084 paupers buried in a mass grave at Rosemary Green. We follow them and the Bristol Radical History […] More

What we did on our summer holidays…#1

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The annual Fete d'Humanitie originally began in 1930 as a fund raiser for the Communist newspaper L'Humanitie. It was the idea of the editor of the paper in Paris and attracted […] More

The Rosemary Green Memorial

A depiction of the facade of 100 Fishponds Road.

On this site over 4000 men, women and children who died in Eastville Workhouse, known as 100 Fishponds Road, were buried in unmarked graves. A further 118 were given to the medical […] More

Eastville Workhouse memorial unveiling programme

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This is a copy of the programme handed out at the Eastville Workhouse burail ground memorial unveiling 16/11/2015. Download the programme here... More

Colston and slavery still obscured?

(c) Society of Merchant Venturers; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

At last year’s Merchant Venturers Charter Day service at the cathedral the Bishop of Bristol, stated that Edward Colston had: lived a life of significance... [and there]... may be […] More

From the Young Patriots to the Rainbow Coalition

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Introduction The last twenty years or so have seen a wave of publications recounting and examining the history of the New Left and radical Black, Latino and Native American […] More

The Lawbreakers

The Lawbreakers

A BBC film from 1973 about the squatting movement in Bristol. See also Mac McConnell's talk "Housing Activism and Squatting in 1970’s Bristol" at the 2015 Anarchist Bookfair. More

Gallipoli and Bristol

A WoundedTurkish Infantryman Having A Drink Of Water

The horses, the horses, we couldn't get the horses off the beach; we should not have been there A British veteran of Gallipoli In the Autumn of 1914 a number of men from Bristol […] More

Arrowsmith and the ‘Bristol Revolution’ of 1831

Queen Square on the Night of 30th October 1831, 1831, W. J. Müller

I was fortunate enough to acquire, among a collection of books, both the 1884 and the considerably expanded 1906 edition of Arrowsmith’s Dictionary of Bristol, edited by Henry J. […] More

Do You Have A Conchie In The Family?

Whiteford brothers

From 1916-19 many men & women in Bristol organised opposition to conscription. Dozens of Bristolians were imprisoned as conscientious objectors. These included Walter Ayles, […] More

Recent Pamphlets

The Maltreated and the Malcontents

The Maltreated and the Malcontents front cover

The history of Bristol’s Great Western Cotton Works in Barton Hill, which opened in 1838, is little known. The story of its workforce — mainly low-paid women and children — has […] More

Slaughter No Remedy

Walter Ayles Front Cover

Walter Ayles was a fighter – but a fighter who didn’t believe in killing. He fought against unemployment and ruthless employers but also against the pro-war fever that led to the […] More

The Life and Death of Hannah Wiltshire

HAnnah Wiltshire Front Cover

During the year of 1855 rumours of murder and cover up were circulating in the small north Somerset village of Walton-in-Gordano. An epileptic destitute country girl had died in […] More

100 Fishponds Rd.

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In 2012 some radical historians poring over old maps of East Bristol came across a disused burial ground at Rosemary Green close to the site of Eastville Workhouse at 100 Fishponds […] More

The Bristol Deserter

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The years leading up to 1914 saw a wave of strike action across Britain; at the same time there were fears of war with Germany whipped up by the press and in popular culture. Some […] More

Class Cohesion versus Spurious Patriotism

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With a new afterword by Kevin Morgan. A 2015 reprint of a 1915 pamphlet, originally published at the height of reaction during World War One. Proposing class struggle and […] More

Strikers, Hobblers, Conchies & Reds

Strikers, Hobblers, Conchies & Reds front cover

This book can be bought from breviarystuff.org.uk. In the 1970s and 80s a revival of interest emerged in researching Bristol’s vigorous radical past, reflected in the publications […] More

Poaching in the South West

Poaching in the South West

Poaching is known in some quarters as the 2nd oldest profession and defined as the taking of wild animals without the landowners consent. Here lies a significant problem: how could […] More

Bristol Independent Labour Party

#31 Bristol ILP Front Cover

During World War One a significant minority of women and men throughout the country took part in a peace movement. They demanded the democratic control of foreign policy, a […] More

Coal On One Hand, Men On The Other

Coal On One Hand, Men On The Other

The following resolutions were passed at a meeting of Forest of Dean Miners at Speech House in August 1917. “That we, the Forest of Dean Miners, enter our most emphatic protest […] More

The Cock Road Gang

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Cock Road was, in the 18th Century, a tiny little hamlet on the outskirts of Bristol. However, the exploits of the inhabitants brought it to the attention of the authorities of […] More

Bristol and the Labour Unrest of 1910-14

Bristol and the Labour Unrest Front Cover

1910 saw a renewed outbreak of industrial strife, as significant sections of the trade union rank-and-file began to express their frustration at the lack of progress made in their […] More

Recent Events

Slaughter No Remedy

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A re-enactment of Walter Ayles' Militry Tribunal Bristol Register Office, Corn Street, BS1 1JG. Walter Ayles was Bristol’s most prominent opponent of World War 1. He was a member […] More

Discovering British 1914-1918 War Resisters

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Cyril Pearce is Britain's foremost researcher into World War 1 conscientious objectors (COs) and war resisters. His book 'Comrades in Conscience' looked at the anti-war movement in […] More

Escape was on Everyone’s Mind

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Paper theatre by Otherstory at Southbank, Dean Lane, Bristol BS3 1DB. See how an ordinary apprentice carpenter became the legendary jail breaker and hero of the people. Witness his […] More

Captain Jack White DSO

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Captain Jack White DSO attracted adjectives like jam does wasps - flamboyant, gallant, romantic, handsome, idiosyncratic, incorrigible - and every one of them was appropriate. He […] More

Bristol May Day

The Haymarket, Chicago and Mayday On the evening of Tuesday May 4th 1886 near the Haymarket, Chicago, armed police attempted to violently disperse a few hundred members of a […] More

The Red Dagger

Radical History Zone 2016 Poster

Live performance of poem by Heathcote Williams The Red Dagger: the symbol of the City of London's treachery and oppression, paraded about in plain sight for 700 years; but who […] More

The Real Conspiracy

Radical History Zone 2016 Poster

It is 44 years since the first-ever national building workers strike in Britain. Five months after the strike ended, 24 pickets were picked up and charged with over 200 offences, […] More

Walk the Line

Radical History Zone 2016 Poster

Just over 50 years ago the first Beeching Report – The Re-shaping of the British Railways – changed the face of British transport forever. In this short talk we'll discuss the […] More

Dave Wise and Stuart Wise

Radical History Zone 2016 Poster

Dave and Stuart Wise were the unrepentant core of 1960’s revolutionary group King Mob, part of the English section of the Situationist International (an ephemeral affiliation; the […] More

James Acland and The Bristolian

Radical History Zone 2016 Poster

The Bristolian local broadsheet is well known in this city for exposing corruption, lies and duplicity amongst Bristol’s ‘high and mighty’ of all shades of political persuasion. […] More

The Maltreated and the Malcontents

Radical History Zone 2016 Poster

The history of Bristol’s Great Western Cotton Works in Barton Hill, which opened in 1838, is little known. The story of its workforce — mainly low-paid women and children — has […] More

Unveiling of a Blue Plaque to Walter Ayles

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Venue: 12 Station Road, Ashley Down, Bristol, BS7 9LA A blue plaque for Walter Ayles will be unveiled on Sunday April 17th – the centenary of the date that Ayles was first […] More

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