Bristol Radical History Group

Since 2006 BRHG have organised over 250 events; staging walks, talks, gigs, recreations, films, exhibitions, trips through the archives and fireside story telling. We have several active research projects, publish a range of books and pamphlets and host an archive on this website.

BRHG projects and 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 members giving their labour for free, donations from the audiences and the sale of publications.

BRHG are associated with several other history groups in Bristol including Remembering the Real World War One, Eastville Workhouse Memorial Group and the Countering-Colston Group. BRHG have also recently become a member of the International History From Below Network.

Bristol slave trade memorial and Abolition Shed on Welsh Back

Sign the petition to give Bristol a proper memorial to the victims of the slave trade and an exhibition space, 'Abolition Shed', on Welsh Back to mark the struggle against slavery. Find out more...

Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors

This exhibition is in Bristol Archives from June 5th until July 14th. The exhibition tells the story of the almost 400 men from Bristol and the surrounding area who, for moral, religious or political reasons, refused to fight in World War 1. Alongside most of the material displayed previously, there will be new exhibits.  Find out 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...

100 Fishponds Road

Front Cover100 Fishponds Rd. Life and Death in a Victorian Workhouse. The research that discovered more than 4000 people buried in unmarked graves at the Eastville Workhouse burial ground. The second edition is now available. Order yours now.

Recent Books

The Gallows Pole

Cover of novel featuring silhouette of figure with noose for hanging in background.

The Gallows Pole is a wonderful novel set in 18th Century Yorkshire. It is based on a true story about the Craggs Vale Coiners. Coiners clipped coins. If you look at your £1 coin, […] More

Socialist History (51)

Journal Review: “Left Intellectuals after 1956” may not sound like the most exciting of titles but the latest edition of Socialist History (no 51) contains a lot of fascinating […] More

Bristol from Below

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 […] More

No Is Not Enough

When a new Naomi Klein book comes along it is certain to be a part of the zeitgeist. So the recent publication of No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics is no […] More

Army of Shadows

Front cover of Army of Shadows

  My partner brought me this book for Xmas. It was priced at 2/6, about 12p in today’s prices. I hoped she paid more than that, but this classic is priceless. This copy was […] More

54

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

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

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

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 […] More

Central Labour College

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

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

Recent Articles

Frederick Douglass in Bristol

After the Frederick Douglass event in the city on Bank Holiday Monday (28 May, 2018) in which BRHG members took part and which drew several hundred people we are publishing this […] More

A Brief Political And Economic Introduction To Bristol […]

There were a number of economic and political changes during the 16th and 17th centuries which prepared the ground for the establishment of the glass industry in Bristol. In 1522 […] More

Two rebel women

I interviewed Florence Exten-Hann in March 1973 and this article appeared in the socialist feminist magazine Red Rag (no.3 1973). It draws also on notes she wrote about her life […] More

Joshua Fitch and Colston’s Girls’ School

Introduction On 11th November 2017 Colston's Girls’ School (CGS) announced that they would not be changing the name of the school, despite its associations with Edward Colston, the […] More

Edward Colston Research Paper #2

Introduction This research article is an examination of the Royal African Company (RAC) and the role of Edward Colston (b. 1636 d. 1721) within the organisation as both an investor […] More

Davis Day

When Thomas Davis and his wife Annis and their family from Pillowell in the Forest of Dean decided to emigrate to Canada in 1890 they could not have known that their choice would […] More

Edward Colston Research Paper #1

Introduction Edward Colston was an investor, official and eventually deputy governor of the Royal African Company (RAC) from 1680-92. Over this period the RAC purchased and […] More

The Eastville Workhouse Memorials

100 Fishponds Road

Where am I? You are on the site of Eastville Workhouse, which opened its doors in 1847. In the 1930s it became an old people's home and was finally demolished in 1972. This page is […] More

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

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

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

Recent Pamphlets

Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old

Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old - Front Covers

During World War One, 28 men from the Forest of Dean sought recognition as conscientious objectors rather than be called up to fight. This is the story of these men, the options […] More

Turbulence

Turbulence Front Cover

Turbulence describes how the expanding armaments industry of the First World war drew thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled workers – women as well as men- into Bristol’s […] More

The War after the War

“Every intelligent person now admits that the antagonism among the nations of Europe that led to competition of armaments and the present world war was fundamentally due to a […] More

Lady Blackshirts

Lady Blackshirts Front Cover

During the 1930’s a small group of ultra-nationalistic women, who considered themselves feminists, joined Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. Surprisingly some of these […] More

The Smoke-Dragon and How to Destroy it

Smoke Dragon front cover

Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was one of the most progressive thinkers and writers and activists of the late-19th, early 20th centuries. He was an early supporter of the Bristol […] More

The Enigma of Hugh Holmes Gore

Hugh Holmes Gore Front Cover

The Anglo – Catholic convert to the left, Hugh Holmes Gore, was a key figure in Bristol’s labour movement during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Gore linked Clifton […] More

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.

2nd Edition. Revised and substantially expanded. In 2012 some radical historians poring over old maps of East Bristol came across a disused burial ground at Rosemary Green close to […] More

The Bristol Deserter

#32 The Bristol Deserter Front Cover

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

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

Recent Events

Exhibition: Refusing to Kill

The exhibition ‘Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors‘ which was in Bristol Cathedral and the Central Library from September 2017 until February 2018 is […] More

Film Showing: Make More Noise

miscellaneous 2018 poster

This fascinating British Film Institute compilation of original footage highlights the passion and media savvy of the suffragettes in struggle, offering a fascinating portrait of […] More

Swords Into Ploughshares, Arms To Renewables

miscellaneous 2018 poster

“To inflame the imagination of others” – that is the way shop steward convenor Mike Cooley saw the Lucas Aerospace Alternative Plan. The Plan had arisen out of the threat of […] More

History Walk 3: Degrees of Dissent: Bristol’s […]

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

Join collective bread, print & roses on a tour through Bristol’s radical past, present and future. Together we will bring to life the city’s dissenting history, its rich […] More

Studio 1 & 2: Pressure Drop? What did the protests […]

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

Professor Bush offers a critical reassessment of the events of 1968 and their aftermath. He will look at May '68 in Paris in a broader context of global protest and changing […] More

Studio 2: Strikes, equal pay and workers’ […]

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

    The events of 1968 are often represented by university occupations, protests against the war in Vietnam and the rise of the counter-culture. This however is a partial […] More

Studio 1: On the run – Remembering the men who […]

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

From the introduction of conscription in 1916 to the end of the war each year at least 80,000 men were reported missing as deserters or absentees from the British home forces. […] More

Studio 2: What I remember…memories of 1968

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

Di Parkin, Secretary of Bristol Radical History Group shares her memories of 1968 from the Vietnam anti-war demonstrations and the women’s equal pay strike at Ford's Dagenham to […] More

Performance Space: May 1968: From a Mod to a Marxist

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

Born in 1951, Radical Stroud’s Stuart Butler recounts how the events of May '68 turned him from a mod into a Marxist. Stuart shares his personal journey during the year that rocked […] More

Studio 2: The Granary: Music in Bristol ‘68

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

The Granary opened its doors as a jazz club in Bristol in 1968, establishing itself as a rock venue in 1969 when the collective Plastic Dog moved in. This session explores the […] More

Studio 1: Film Showing: Mutiny at Taranto

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

This documentary looks at the British Caribbean experience of the First World War and its legacies, as revealed by the last surviving veterans of the British West Indies Regiment. […] More

Studio 2: From Festival to Carnival: 50 Years of St […]

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light

St Pauls Carnival is held, usually on the first Saturday of July in Bristol. The celebration began life in 1968 as the St Pauls Festival, when the idea was "to create an event to […] More

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