Bristol Radical History Group

Since 2006 BRHG have organised over 500 events; staging walks, talks, gigs, historical 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 are also a member of the International History From Below Network.

Our friends include Breviary Stuff Publications, an independent publisher of radical history, working class history and history from below. For almost 10 years they have reproduced out-of-print classics along with new titles for affordable prices, unlike the majority of academic publishers. Check out their interesting range of books here.

Find out about Edward Coslton

A close up of Colston's face from his statue in Bristol's centre

Click here for a selection of content from this site about Edward Colston. Find out about what Colston did in his life-time, and why he is such a contentious figure today. You can also see the content on this site that relates to slavery, resistance and rebellion here.

New BRHG book: Hilda Cashmore

Hilda Cashmore front cover depicting the cottages that became Barton Hill Settlement.Over 100 years since its foundation, Bristol’s Barton Hill Settlement is still operating as an important community hub in the city. This book tells the story of its first warden, Hilda Cashmore, her campaign to establish the Settlement, and her approach to social work as exemplified by its activities in its early days. Find out more...

New BRHG Pamphlet: The Cry of the Poor

Cry of the Poor Front CoverThis impassioned and lucidly argued letter, written in 1871, set out demands for improvements to the quality of life for Bristol’s working people: clean air, parks, bathing places, libraries, a fish market and an end to bridge tolls. Over the subsequent 20 years most of these demands were met. However, we still find ourselves fighting to retain some of those historic gains... Find out more here.

Recent Blog Posts

Callout for feedback on our 4th Bristol Radical History […]

How time flies in the midst of the multiple global crisis of capitalism! A week ago our 4th Bristol Radical History Festival was just beginning, and we at BRHG were pretty pleased […] More

You are invited: to the 4th Bristol Radical History […]

We are delighted to welcome people back to M Shed this Saturday, 14th May, for our 4th Bristol Radical History Festival. It's been a frustrating two years of delays and […] More

Downs row – Merchants hit back over criticism

In a report in the Bristol Post of Wednesday 26 January 2022, the Society of Merchant Venturers [SMVs] hit back at critics who want them to give up their half of the Downs and […] More

Congratulations Barbados

Slave ship Hannibal 1693-1695

On Tuesday 30 November 2021, marking the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, Barbados proudly became a Republic. In 2020 the then governor-general of Barbados, Sandra […] More

Deliberately Maintaining the Silence on Slavery History

Calls for ‘an international memorial to the victims of enslavement’[1] sound reasonable, but my own experience this year uncovered a strong tendency to keep slavery history hidden. […] More

The Dragon has two tongues rises again…

After more than 35 years in obscurity the hugely influential TV series The Dragon Has Two Tongues, a history of Wales, has risen again. This week the Welsh Underground Network made […] More

If you are Glad Colston’s Gone – support […]

One year on from the fall of the Edward Colston statue from it's pedestal during the Black Lives Matter protest on 7 June 2020, there's been another media feeding frenzy focused on […] More

Statement of Support for the Toppling of the Colston […]

Early this morning, on the first anniversary of the toppling of the slave-trader and former Tory MP Edward Colston from his plinth, the campaign coalition @GladColstonsGone issued […] More

The M Shed Colston ‘Consultative Display’ – What’s in […]

Introduction After months of secrecy instigated by the Mayor’s Office finally M Shed are launching their ‘Consultative Display” entitled The Colston Statue: What Next? For many of […] More

Abolition Shed 2 – details

A Vision for former Seaman’s Mission and Chapel, Bristol Currently owned by Sam Smiths Brewery (Yorkshire) Introduction After the rejection of our plans for Abolition Shed 1, […] More

Abolition Shed 1 – details

A Vision for O & M Sheds, Welsh Back, Bristol Subsequently sold to a developer Introduction Bristol has played a key role in events, ideas and literature that have shaped […] More

The Legacy Steering Group – Local historians out, […]

The Legacy Steering Group (LSG, initially known as the Slave Trade Legacy Roundtable and now formally known as the Bristol Transatlantic Slavery Legacy Group) was founded by […] More

Recent Books

Make Bosses Pay

Eve Livingston - Published by Pluto Press (2021) There isn’t a lot of history in Eve Livingston’s book – “The British labour movement: A potted history” pages 10-15 – but what […] More

Sabotage

Book Review: Dazza Scott, Sabotage: The Story of the Hunt Saboteurs Association (Hunt Saboteurs Association, 2021). In 2023 the Hunt Saboteurs Association will mark its 60th […] More

The Fight for Monad

Raymond Williams’s novel, The Fight for Manod was first published in 1979. As we know, 1979 was an important year, seemingly a watershed year. In this year Margaret Thatcher was […] More

Again with One Voice: British Songs of Political […]

This ‘supremely singable’ collection of 120 songs with musical settings should ‘enlighten and enliven our discussions and our singing in equal measure’ (Oskar Cox Jensen, […] More

The Book of Trespass

    …the fences that divide England are not just symbols of the partition of people but the very cause of it. Bristol Radical History Group subscribers will find […] More

Posh Boys

If the reader has had a public school education then this book is probably ‘a huge enjoyable read’ as recommended by one reviewer, on the other hand if the reader is a member of […] More

Imperial Intimacies

A copy of The Bristolian

This is an eloquent and angry account of Professor Hazel Carby’s family history linked to the shameful history of the British Empire. She is painfully honest about the relationship […] More

On Brandon Hill

This is an absolutely epic overview of Bristol culture – literary connections, film, music, gossip and much more since WW2. That’s around seven decades’ worth. You need to read it […] More

The Fatal Shore

Anyone interested in the history of Australia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would do well to read Robert Hughes’s book. He describes in detail the development of […] More

The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of […]

As you will have probably gathered from the title, Professor Gerald Horne wastes no time with mincing his words. The first paragraph of the Introduction is likewise refreshingly […] More

The Battle for China’s Past: Mao and The Cultural […]

This 2008 book is a significant contribution to an ongoing process whereby Chinese radicals are reappraising dominant narratives on revolutionary China and in particular on the […] More

Struggle or Starve: Working-Class Unity in Belfast’s […]

Struggle or Starve is a compelling account of the 1932 Outdoor Relief riots in Belfast, an episode of widespread working-class unity while engaged in militant struggle that is […] More

Recent Articles

Radical Empathy: Voices of the Bristol Crisis Service […]

  In April 1986 a group of women in Bristol who considered themselves both feminists and survivors of psychiatric treatment came together to found the Bristol Crisis Service […] More

Bath Workhouse Burial Ground Project

Trees will grow and a wildflower meadow bloom at Bath’s Union Workhouse Burial Ground. A place of memory and reflection is emerging thanks to the work of local residents, artists […] More

Some insights into the lives of the crew onboard the […]

Slave ship Hannibal 1693-1695

An often overlooked but essential element of a slave ship, such as the Hannibal, was the requirement for a large crew in comparison to the number of sailors usually required to man […] More

From Lewis Hamilton to Jemima (age 12)

TEAR THEM ALL DOWN. Everywhere. Lewis Hamilton (seven time F1 World Drivers Champion) Black Lives Matter X heart X heart. Jemima (age 12) This is the third in a series of articles […] More

The fall of Colston – a timeline of impact in […]

  All over the world I’ve seen grandchildren of slave masters tearing down slave masters statues – over in England they put it in the river. Reverend Al Sharpton speaking at […] More

New pauper burial research at Greenbank cemetery

Introduction From 2014-2019 Eastville Workhouse Memorial Group (EWMG) studied Rosemary Green, a piece of land consecrated and used as a pauper burial ground soon after the new […] More

Edward Colston: A century of dissent and protest

Introduction During the furore about the renaming of the Colston Hall in 2017 a number of angry letter-writers to the Bristol Post claimed that the recent protests over Edward […] More

‘Triptych’ A poem by Marvin Thompson […]

On the weekend of 7-9 June 2020 the Brecon plaque to a slave trading captain was stripped from the wall on which it was erected in 2010. Poet Marvin Thompson was inspired to write […] More

The Great Post Office Strike of 1971

The 15th February 1971 was United Kingdom Decimalisation Day: no longer were there 12 pennies to a shilling, half-crowns, or 240 pennies to the pound. That day, 50 years ago, was […] More

Black History Month 2020

During 2010, and during Black History Month no less, a plaque was quietly erected in the rural town of Brecon, Wales to commemorate the life of a slave trader and commander of the […] More

As Sylvie Was Walking

This story starts in the Forest of Dean with a riot and song and ends with an account of the struggle for the human rights of the visually impaired in Australia. The folk song As […] More

Memories of 1960s Bristol

I came to Bristol from Newport in South Wales in August 1962 when I was 12 years old. I had been brought up there and my family came from the Pontypool area. I had once been to […] More

Recent Pamphlets

Hilda Cashmore

Hilda Cashmore front cover depicting the cottages that became Barton Hill Settlement.

Hilda Cashmore (1876-1943), her life and community work in Bristol and beyond. Over 100 years since its foundation, Bristol’s Barton Hill Settlement is still operating as an […] More

The Cry of the Poor

Cry of the Poor front cover with a William Morris print

"Being a Letter from Sixteen Working Men of various trades, to the Sixteen Aldermen of Bristol." This impassioned and lucidly argued letter, written in 1871, set out demands for […] More

Tremors of Discontent

Tremors of Discontent Front cover showing Mike Richardson speaking into a microphone

While there are many academic studies of workers’ resistance and consciousness during the 1970s and 1980s, few accounts relate the personal-political experiences of the activists […] More

De-Convicted

De-Convicted cover - man's hands holding prison cell bars and a pencil

This pamphlet analyses British penology by focussing on three case studies, spread across two centuries, all with Bristol connections. Francis Greenway, originally sentenced to […] More

State Snooping

State Snooping front Covers. I man's face split in two, ha;f copper, half crusty activist.

In the 1550s Elizabeth I claimed that she had “no desire to open windows into men’s souls” while seeking to do just that. This pamphlet traces a near 500 year history of British […] More

The Forest of Dean Miners’ Riot of 1831

Forest Of Dean Miners' Strike 1831 Front Cover

In June 1831, the free miners and commoners of the Forest of Dean rioted. This book considers the background to the uprising and the motives of the participants. Chris Fisher […] More

Steps Against War

Front cover showing two puppets from the history walk

In World War 1 there were at least 40 conscientious objectors in Bedminster, as well as others who resisted the war and conscription. Fred Berriman took an uncompromising stand and […] More

God’s Beautiful Sunshine

Front cover with a photo of striking miners and their families enjoying a picnic

In 1921, in response to a severe depression in the coal trade, colliery owners, supported by the government, slashed labour costs. Refusing to accept this cut in wages, a million […] More

From Wulfstan to Colston

Front cover showing a stained glass window with St Wulfstan and Colston as depicted on his tomb

Tracing a thousand-year history, Mark Steeds and Roger Ball examine the involvement in slavery of Bristol’s merchants, from Anglo-Saxon times through the era of exploration and […] More

Angela Carter’s ‘Provincial Bohemia’

Front cover with a portrait of Angela Carter

Socialist and feminist novelist Angela Carter is one of the most acclaimed late-twentieth-century English writers, famous for short-story collections such as The Bloody Chamber and […] More

Facing up to the Fascists

Facing up to Fascists front cover

As the ultra-right tries to spread its message of hate, Colin Thomas reminds us that we have been here before. This is how the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism resisted the […] More

Censured

Censured Front Cover

Mike Richardson’s intriguing account of his aunt, Beatrice Richardson and her biracial daughter Gillian, brings into stark relief the racism and sexism that existed in Britain […] More

Recent Events

Clevedon Literary Festival

A Celebration of the Book - Sat 11th June St Andrews Church Centre, Old Church Rd, Clevedon BS21 7UE Funded by Clevedon Community Bookshop Cooperative, Bookbinders, book artists, […] More

Stolen Paradise: the post-war squatting movement in […]

During the summer of 1946, thousands of British families took the law into their own hands to temporarily solve their housing problems by "requisitioning" empty military camps. […] More

Hughesovka and the New Russia

  Here is the history of one Ukraine town, a microcosm of Russia, before its independence in 1991. Hughesovka, (later Stalino and Donestk) was a mining and steel town founded […] More

‘A Black life lived large’ – Pearl […]

The arrival of the Empire Windrush, which docked in Tilbury in June 1948, bringing 492 migrants from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands was part of the large scale […] More

The Spycops scandal from 1968 to present

Our panel of speakers will address the scandal of the Spycops, the hitherto secret operations of undercover cops spying inside labour and social movements since 1968. Since the […] More

Politics and Protest: Posters from the Women’s […]

We are pleased to host this exhibition at the BRHFestival 2022 on 14th May at Mshed. You can view the exhibition from 10am to 4pm, at the Level 2 foyer, inside Mshed. Talk - 2pm at […] More

‘Secret and delicate sources’: UK Black […]

Black Power in Britain started in 1967, reached its apogee in 1971 and was in terminal decline by the mid-1970s. It was an expression of frustration, anger and – most importantly – […] More

Why didn’t the reforming Labour government of […]

Individual Labour MPs such as Sidney Silverman were significant to campaigning for abolition of the death penalty in Britain and the Labour Party was more hospitable to the idea of […] More

Everyone’s Wally

Biographical documentary on Wally Hope of the tribe of Wallies who founded the Stonehenge Free Festivals in the 1970s. His is a tale of mystical visions, pharmaceutically induced […] More

Angela Carter and the Bristol counterculture

  Steve Hunt of Bristol Radical History Group will lead a stroll around some old haunts associated with Angela Carter and the 1960s and 1970s counterculture. Join Steve to […] More

‘Malevolence Imposes Vigilance’: State and […]

The modern relationship between the British state and corporate surveillance dates back to a time of rapid industrial change between 1911 and 1921, when socialism and syndicalism […] More

Set the people free – post-war opposition to ID […]

Roger Ball will outline how during the Second World War the government introduced compulsory ID cards as part of their emergency measures. It was not until seven years after the […] More