Bristol from Below

Law, Authority and Protest in a Georgian City

By Steve Poole and Nicholas Rogers
Within the Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG), we are constantly pressing for more history from below. Researching, writing and celebrating our history. The history of those who have built, fed, and run Bristol through the ages, and those who have just lived by their wits. Therefore, we were quite excited to see this book. However, the book is priced at £70. Yes, that’s right, this is not a typo. Seventy pounds sterling. Whilst most of the present day working classes are struggling, with […]

Battling for Bristol

"Battling for Bristol" is an evening of films, put on by the Bristol Radical History Group as part of the Journey to Justice month. The series of short films cover Bristol struggles for equal rights. It will include the risings of 1831,1980 and 1986, the demands for decent housing and for equality for women workers, as well as a documentary of the boycott that ended job discrimination on Bristol buses.

Studio 2: 800 Years and Counting

The 1217 Charter of the Forests in the Forest of Dean and its Enduring Legacy

The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire - royal larder or people's larder? The Charter of the Forests, a lesser-known but wider-ranging companion to the Magna Carta, confirmed any "freemen" or commoners could help themselves to many of the resources of forests across England. Within 500 years, those subsisting in the woods were declared illegal squatters as aristocrats and the Crown tried to fence them out and grab all the iron ore, coal, timber and land. Successive waves of tenacious, described […]

History Walk 2: Riots, Massacres and Reform 1700s-1832

This 1.5 hour walk in the centre of Bristol takes us through a century of working class history, charting the path of the 'crowd' from the 'moral economy' of the 1700s, through the effects of the French Revolution to the 'Reform Riots' of 1831/2. So come and find out: Why Bristol merchants trembled if the Kingswood Colliers were in town How best to do 'collective bargaining by riot' What happened during the infamous Bristol Bridge massacre What a silver coin, some stolen hammers and a tricolour […]

The Bristol Riots 1831 and the ‘Picketing of the Bristol Packet’ at Newport

This article was recently published in the excellent Chartism online magazine and is the result of a collaboration between BRHG and David Osmond, Ray Stroud, Peter Strong, Les James, historians from Newport and Cardiff. Our thanks to Les James for authoring the piece and allowing us to reproduce it. ​ Members from the Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) brought their bookstall to the 2016 Newport Chartist Convention held at the John Frost School. Di Parkin, Roger Ball, Maureen Ball, Steve Mills […]

Dorset Radical Bookfair

'Ye have not done as ye ought': The Captain Swing Uprising

Dorset’s first Radical Bookfair will take place on Saturday 3rd June 2017 at Portfield Community Hall, Portfield Rd, Christchurch BH23 2AQ (approximately 5 minutes walk from Christchurch railway station). Ground floor is accessible for the disabled. Free entry to the public from 10:30 to 17:30 with after party from 19:30 to 23:00 £5 suggested donation. BRHG will be giving the following talk at the event: 'Ye have not done as ye ought': The Captain Swing Uprising The ‘Swing riots’ were a massive […]

A ‘night of infamy’: Black Friday, 1892

History Walk

Bristol was rocked by two major strike waves in the late 19th Century, the first (1889-90) marked the emergence of ‘new unionism’ representing male and (significantly) female unskilled and semi-skilled labourers. Victory in these strikes improved pay and conditions for workers but led to an organised counter-offensive by employers in the autumn of 1892. The response of workers was a second strike wave which united miners, dockers and female confectionary workers, culminating in 'Black Friday' on […]

The 1831 Bristol rising

Solidarity in South Wales

  After the defeat of the first reform bill in early October 1831 violent protests exploded in many British cities. The rising in Bristol was the most spectacular and suffered the harshest repression by the military. This talk considers this revolt and, using new research, solidarity actions in South Wales to aid the Bristol ‘rioters’. A workshop at Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair, Room 1, Cathays Community Centre, 36-38 Cathays Terrace, Cardiff CF24 4HX

The Captain Swing Riots

United Reform Church Hall, Boulevard, Waterloo St, Weston-super-Mare BS23 1LF The ‘Swing riots’ were a massive wave of protests, machine breaking, arson and extortion carried out by impoverished farm labourers and village artisans between the summers of 1830-31. Beginning in Kent the movement spread rapidly to engulf numerous counties in southern England. The uprising became known as the 'Swing riots' as the collective destruction was usually preceded by threatening letters to landowners signed […]

Commemoration of the 1831 Bristol ‘Riots’ at Queen Square

Queen Square 1831
29 October 2016 A small group of us gathered at the statue of William III in Queen Square to remember the three day ‘riot’ of October 1831 which shocked the country at the time and put the government in fear of revolution. This event eventually led to the 1832 Reform Act which lessened the rampant corruption in the form of ‘rotten boroughs’, created new seats in a number of industrial cities and increased the franchise to include some of the male middle class (but not women or the working […]

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