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 […]

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 […]

City Under Fire

The Bristol Riots and Aftermath

By Geoffrey Amey
City under fire cover
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 infamous event. ‘This lively row gave Bristol the biggest advertisement in its history’ (Columbus p. 16, 1893), yet it has rarely received more considerable attention. There appear to be only four book-length histories: ‘A Citizen’ (John Eagles) produced his assessment in the following year, The Bristol Riots, Their Causes, […]

The 1831 Hammer Film

The night before the 1831 riots, hundreds of Sledge Hammers were 'borrowed' from the Acraman's Iron Foundry in Bathurst Basin (now Bristol General Hospital). These hammers were used during the riots to break down the doors of the four prisons in Bristol. The day after the riots, all but two of these hammers were returned. This fact, at the time, was used as evidence of prior planning by the "mob". The hammers were recreated for the Bristol Radical History Week 2006 exhibition by Jasper Johns at […]

Radical History Walk

Part of the Trapese Popular Education Collective's 'Start Producing the Future'. The walk will take in the scenes of some radical activism, both ancient and modern, and compare this with the actions of the 'mob'. Why did a man on a donkey in Corn Street and a Cambridge geek befriending the landlord of the Seven Stars had such an impact on the World. Why did a mob burn down Queen's Square in 1831? Who ate all the pies in 1832? What caused the Bristol Bridge Riot. Which brave man (or could it […]

1831 Uprising Commermoration

Celebrate the popular revolt that shocked the British ruling classes into democratic reform. Join the 'mob' waving flaming brands and listen to fiery speeches as we remember the hundreds of Bristol rebels who changed the course of history. Dress : Bawdy Attitude : Raucous

Insurrectionary Bristol: 1831

Britain in 1831… a tinder box? The Reform Act and suffrage The events of October in Bristol The trials and punishments Was it chaos, protest or class war? The wider political implications Why we should commemorate 1831 Listent to this talk: [audio: Queen Square Riot|artists=Ian Bone] Downlaod to this talk (1.5 Mb mp3 file)

1831 And All That …

This article was written for Mute Magazine. One of the objectives of Bristol Radical History week was to re-examine some of the momentous events of Bristol’s history that have been often dismissed by historians as ‘chaos’ or ‘inexplicable’. The process of this examination by academics, local historians and interested punters during the week exposed some of the key problems of historical analysis. Precision Strikes The three days of rioting that occurred in October 1831 in Bristol were certainly […]

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 […]

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