Eastville Workhouse and the unmarked graves of paupers at Rosemary Green

Bristol Radical History group (BRHG) is making progress on the project to record and respect the paupers buried in unmarked ground behind the old Eastville workhouse (100 Fishponds Rd), now called Rosemary Green. A key marker of disrespect is burying people, seen as worthless in unmarked graves; their death and burial not worth marking. Despite the fact that Victorian Britain and its Empire was the ‘workshop of the world’ generating unprecedented wealth for the few, at its base was widespread […]

Should Britain Go to War With Germany?

Anti-war politician Kier Hardie addresses a protest in Trafalgar Square (Sunday August 2nd 1914)
Opposition to WW1 in Bristol in August 1914 War enthusiasm? There is a perception in Britain that popular patriotic pressure drove politicians to declare war on Germany on August 4th 1914 and that the population somehow desired war. This so-called ‘war enthusiasm’ has been characterised in the popular memory as: "cheering crowds outside Buckingham Palace, long lines outside recruiting offices and of soldiers marching away singing 'Tipperary'" . These images have been recently promoted by TV […]

Tolpuddle, Hutt and the Meerut ‘Conspiracy’

Tolpuddle & Today
A few years ago Bristol Radical History Group published a pamphlet entitled Tolpuddle and Swing: The Flea and the Elephant which critiqued the centrality of the Tolpuddle Martyrs incident (1833-34) to Trade Union history whilst the massive uprising of rural wage-labourers which occurred a few years previously, known as the ‘Captain Swing riots’ (1830-31), had been pretty much ignored. The pamphlet essentially came about because of admirable efforts by Trade Unionists in Wiltshire and Hampshire […]

Babies in unmarked graves

Eastville Workhouse, BRHG research project There is rightly scandal in the press at the 800 babies buried in unmarked graves in Galway. But this was not a unique occurrence. Bristol Radical History Group BRHG has established that 3,300 adults, children and babies were buried in unmarked graves in an old cemetery (now a piece of open ground) behind the Eastville Workhouse on Fishponds Road in Bristol. The workhouse death records from 1855 to 1895 establish these burials took place. Some human […]

THIRTEEN ROSES ….. AND 43 CARNATIONS

Translation by Diarmuid Breatnach; original version published in Spanish in Rafael Narbona’s blog August 2013, also republished by kind permission in Rebel Breeze. On the morning of August 5th 1939 thirteen women were shot dead against the walls of the Eastern Madrid Cemetery. Nine were minors, because at that time the age of majority was not reached until twenty-one. Ranging in age from 18 to 29, all had been brought from the Sales women’s prison, a prison that was designed for 450 people and […]

The guillotine, knitting and terror…

So you think you know about the French Revolution?

A demonstration of the ‘humane’ guillotine
Introduction The last few years I have been playing word association games; asking people at work and at the pub to say the first thing that comes into their head about a particular historical event or figure. So typically the English Civil War carries mental images of 'laughing cavaliers', 'miserable roundheads' and blood-thirsty executions of kings, World War I produces 'mud, blood and barbed wire' and recently, PC Blakelock elicits 'brutal mob violence'. Of course some people and events […]

Ripples From The French Revolution In Tewksbury

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F. Kennedy (White House speech, 1962) First published in the Tewkesbury Historical Society "Bulletin 23", Mar 2014 and in "The Local Historian", Jan 2014 (journal of the British Association for Local History) The advent of the French Revolution in 1789 polarised opinion in England. Some saw it as positive: Charles Fox described the storming of the Bastille as “How much the greatest event it is that ever […]

Some Hidden Histories of the British State Revealed in 2013

Republican mural drawing attention to the complex web of organisations involved in the counter-insurgency campaign in Northern Ireland
In ten years we'll leak the truth By then it's only so much paper According to the U.S. punk band the Dead Kennedys it takes about 10 years before our 'democracies' decide to "leak the truth" about activities of secret arms of the state. In the current world of social media and the information highway there seems to be a perception that no secret is safe and that "it will get out somehow". This suggests the cosy idea that somehow the internet is leading us to a more open society with rapid […]

Bliss Mill Strikers

Bliss Mill Front Cover
Bliss Tweed Mill: Prosecuted Strikers/Supporters, 1914 CN = Chipping Norton Name Address Age Started Work at Bliss Mill Occupation Sentence Re-engaged Walter Bowen 1 Finsbury Place, CN 25 Baker (his father, John, was a striker) Bound over 12 months John Bowen re-engaged 06/11/1916 Annie Cooper 16 Spring Street, CN 50 About 1888 Machine Feeder 14 days No Charles A Dixon 4 London Road, CN 21 About 1905 Yarn Store Hand Bound over 12 months No John (Jack) Gee 3 Kimberly Place, West Street, CN 29 […]

The Crimes of Walter Virgo and the “Blakeney Gang”

In the Forest of Dean towards the end of the nineteenth century the ‘Blakeney Outrages’ of the 1890s led to Walter Virgo and the “Blakeney Gang” being accused of acts of poisoning, maiming, stealing, poaching, midnight raids, dynamiting, arson and murder. However, their story cannot be understood without placing their actions in the historical context of the struggle for the customary right to common which in the past involved the use of direct action and political violence. A consideration of […]

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