The Southmead Riots

April of 2005 saw the 25th anniversary of the St Paul's riots, a day and night in 1980 that not only was the precursor for further riots in London and Liverpool but the catalyst also that sparked changes that are still reverberating to this day. As Paul Stephenson, the former regional executive officer for the Commission for Racial Equality has commented: 'The riots were a wake up call for the country'. To mark the occasion, a two-page article appeared in The Bristol Evening Post featuring the […]

James Nayler’s Ride into Bristol : October 1656

James Nayler From Bristol Past and Present Vol III by J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor 1882.
350 years ago this month a small group of men and women approached the gates of Bristol, singing hosannas before a man on a horse. They appeared to be imitating Christ's entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The man was James Nayler (1617-1660), a leader of the upstart Quaker movement and onetime member of Cromwell's New Model Army. The Puritan authorities were outraged. Nayler was seized and charged with blasphemy. Sent to London where he was the subject of a full Parliamentary debate for ten […]

Cry Freedom, Cry Seven Stars!

Seven Stars Concert Poster
This article was written for Pints West. During Bristol's Radical History Week (28th October to 5th November) at the appropriately named Spyglass restaurant, the Long John Silver Trust was twice invited to join in with the debates. On the Wednesday evening, as a representative of the Trust, I spoke about the history of the Seven Stars, St Thomas Lane under the heading of the 'Anti-Slavery Movement in Bristol', and again on the Saturday afternoon for "Bristol and the Revolutionary Atlantic". It […]

Bristol Radical History Week 2006 Final Report

Introduction Bristol Radical History Week comprised 31 events over 9 days in 7 different venues in the city centre. The objective of the week was to: Open up some of the ‘hidden’ history of Bristol to the public scrutiny and challenge some ‘commonly’ held ideas about historical events in the Bristol’s past. Approach this history from ‘below’, to examine the actions of the crowd, dissenters and revolutionaries as the ‘subject’ of history. Recognise that the history of Bristol is inexorably linked […]

Bristol Radical History Week 2006 Report

BWHW 2006 Colour Poster - Bonny
This article was published in The Regional Historian, published by The Regional History Centre at the University of the West of England. 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Hosannah!', 'Prince of Peace!', 'Fairest of Ten Thousand!' shouted the mob of ranting women as they whipped their willow boughs through the air. They surrounded the serene figure of a silent man riding a hobbyhorse up Corn St. in Bristol City centre. Marching behind them, chanting 'England's Freedom! Soldier's Rights!', came a troop of New […]

The 1831 Uprising – Part 3: The Aftermath

BWHW 2006 Colour Poster - 1831
Taken from Bristol Past and Present by J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor, published in 1882 Major Beckwith, in his evidence, stated that the mayor and magistrates seemed stupefied with terror, and that he asked for one of them to accompany his troops on horseback; all but Alderman Camplin said they could not ride, and he said he had not been on horseback for eighteen years. The major then demanded and received a written authority from them to act. The following is a list of the leading members of […]

The 1831 Uprising – Part 2: The Uprising

The 1831 Uprising - Part 2: The Uprising Taken from Bristol Past and Present by J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor, published in 1882 On Saturday, October 29th, the civic force appointed as a guard for the recorder, marched out, about ten o'clock in the morning, by way of Bristol bridge and Temple street, as far as the city boundary at the “Blue Bowl” tavern, Totterdown, to await his coming. They mustered about 300, and included the sheriff's officers, regular constables, and special constables; the […]

The 1831 Uprising – Part1 : The Reform Bill

Sir Charles Wetherell
Taken from Bristol Past and Present by J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor, published in 1882 We now enter upon one of the most important eras in the modern history of our city. In 1831 the Bristol riots occurred in connection with the agitation for reform; Sir Charles Wetherell, the attorney-general under the Duke of Wellington's administration, was a vigorous opponent of the emancipation of the Roman Catholics; on the second reading of the Relief Bill he opposed it in a trenchant, vigorous speech, […]

The Bristol Bridge Riot

Taken from Bristol Past and Present by J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor, published in 1882 The Bristol bridge riots of 1793 form another blot on the escutcheon of the city. Some persons in authority appear to have blundered in their calculations, and sought to stretch an Act of Parliament so as to make it cover the error, and then, with a wrong-headedness which it is lamentable to contemplate, resorted to force in order to accomplish their end. The Act authorised the Bridge commissioners to […]

John The Painter AKA Jack The Painter

Taken from Bristol Past and Present by J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor, published in 1882 On the same day an attempt was made to fire the warehouse of .Mr. Morgan, druggist, Corn Street. Climbing a wall ten feet in height the incendiary had wrenched off three iron bars from a window, and having thus forced an entrance he Med a large box that had contained Glauber's Salts with combustibles, including tar, spirits of wine, and turpentine, which he placed against the oil casks. Providentially, the […]

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