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.

Commemoration, Conflict and Conscience Festival

New BRHG booklet: Mabel Tothill

Mabel Tothill Front CoverJune Hannam’s pamphlet examines the life and work of Mabel Tothill (1869 – 1964), Quaker peace campaigner, socialist and Bristol’s first woman councillor. It reveals how this committed social activist was part of a complex network of individuals and organisations working to improve the lives of Bristol women and men. Read more here...

New BRHG booklet: Refusing to Kill

Refusing to Kill front cover

Over 580 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1. They claimed the status of conscientious objector (CO) for moral, religious or political reasons. Some agreed to take non-military roles while others spent much of the war in prison, often under harsh conditions. This booklet and the exhibition on which it is based tell the story of these COs and the men and women who supported them. Read more here...

 

 

Pending Events

Recent Books

Wales

Clevedon-born author and historian Jan Morris describes herself as ‘by loyalty Welsh’, and writes about her subject with warmth and eloquence. As a book that captures the spirit of […] More

Massive Attack: Out of the Comfort Zone

Just finished Massive Attack: Out of the Comfort Zone, courtesy of Tangent Books and Richard Jones. It's a detailed history of the band from the early eighties through to 2018 by […] More

Make Rojava Green Again

The ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ campaign of the Internationalist Commune of Rojava began in early 2018. I am pleased and impressed that they have now published this inspirational […] More

Hitler’s British Traitors

Regardless of the 2015 publishing date given, this book is currently (last checked December 2018) just available in hardback, and must have been withheld due to the ongoing release […] More

Wiltshire’s Radical History

Wiltshire's Radical History - Covers

Contributors: Steve Poole – Hanged at the scene of their crime. Rosie MacGregor – Angela Tuckett. Nigel Costley – West Country Rebels. Melissa Barnett – Dame Florence May Hancock. […] More

The Sons of Belial

This is a very good book, extremely informative. Even though the bulk of the book is set in the North West of England, there is a wider historical scope. Which would be very useful […] More

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

Recent Articles

The National Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

  If you walk down Market Street in St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, you will come across a grand stone building that was once the court house and now known as […] More

The Edward Colston ‘corrective’ plaque

Introduction Just over a year ago a project was launched to research, design and install a ‘corrective’ plaque on the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol City Centre. It was […] More

Lest we forget – A Life of Pleasure?

A Life of Pleasure After a tip off last year by a member of BRHG I took a trip to Bristol Archives to take a look at some diaries written by Harry Bow in the 1890s. Bow, a […] More

Myths within myths…

In the light of recent moves to place a ‘corrective’ plaque on the statue of Edward Colston in the centre of Bristol and calls for it to be removed to a museum it seems the time is […] More

Should society memorialise a Slave Trader?

If you were to walk around the rear side of the former house and home of Captain Thomas Phillips in Brecon, located along Captains Walk, you will notice a rather handsome slate […] More

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

Recent Pamphlets

Refusing to Kill

Refusing to Kill front cover

Over 580 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1. They claimed the status of conscientious objector (CO) for moral, religious or political reasons. Some agreed to […] More

Mabel Tothill

Mabel Tothill Front Cover

June Hannam’s pamphlet examines the life and work of Mabel Tothill (1869 – 1964), Quaker peace campaigner, socialist and Bristol’s first woman councillor. It reveals how this […] More

Nautical Women

Nautical Women Front Cover

In Nautical Women, Rosemary Caldicott explores the stories of women whose lives were inextricably linked to the sea. She tells of the women of sailortowns struggling to keep out of […] More

Zionism And History

How can we explain the persecution of Jews throughout European history, culminating in the horror of the Nazi holocaust? The founders of the Zionist movement argued that the cause […] More

Men of Fire

Men of Fire Front Cover

The emergence of ‘New Unionism’ in 1889, and the accompanying outburst of strikes across the country, was one of the most extraordinary and significant events in trade union […] More

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

The Smoke-Dragon and How to Destroy it

Smoke Dragon front cover

Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was one of the most progressive thinkers, writers and activists of the late19th and early 20th century. 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

Recent Events

Steps Against War

Otherstory puppetry will be leading a history walk with a difference on April 7th in Bedminster. The walk will use the medium of puppetry to tell the untold stories of Bedminster […] More

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

miscellaneous events 2019

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 […] More

Exhibition: A colour chart for killing

During the centenary commemorations the fallacy of the First World War as ‘The War To End All Wars’ provides an invaluable platform for its legacy to Britain as a military nation […] More

Life and death in two Bristol Victorian workhouses

miscellaneous events 2019

Congresbury History Group, Congresbury Methodist Hall, 2 High St, Congresbury, Bristol BS49 5JA Roger Ball, co-author of 100 Fishponds Rd: Life and death in a Victorian workhouse […] More

John Deed: Heart of Darkness

miscellaneous events 2019

“Heart of Darkness” is a drama from the controversial Judge Deed series. It was transmitted in 2006 but the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit decided that this episode should not be […] More

Film Screening – Greece: The Hidden War

miscellaneous 2018 poster

A rare chance to see the 1986 Channel 4 documentary that explored the clash between British forces and the left-wing Greek Resistance against the Nazi occupation in 1944, which led […] More

Slaughter No Remedy, Harry Patch, Walter Ayles and the […]

Walter Ayles 1923 Election Poster

For Harry Patch and Walter Ayles, the outbreak of the First World War was a testing time. From sharply different backgrounds, they initially responded very differently, Harry […] More

Radical History: Smuggling and Poaching in Dorset

miscellaneous 2018 poster

As part of BridLit Fringe Kev Davis and Steve Mills from the Bristol Radical History Group explore the history of smuggling and poaching in Dorset. Should Smugglers be considered […] More

How did World War One end?

The centenary of the end of WW1 in 1918 will be widely commemorated across the country on Remembrance Sunday this year. However, the military style parades and ceremonies send a […] More

Film Screening: Niemandsland – No Man’s […]

During World War One, five soldiers from different nations end up together amongst ruins in no man’s land and decide to stick together. Shot in 1931, this is the first […] More

Otherstory puppet show: Taking a Holiday

Taking a Holiday tells the amazing story of the secret beneath a Bedminster bike shop. It is a story of struggle in wartime – full of intrigue, escapes, comradeship…and bikes. What […] More

History walk – ‘Canting Humbugs’: Resistance and […]

This 1.5 hour history walk led by members of the Remembering the Real World War One history group explores resistance to the conflict in Bristol. From mass meetings of trade […] More

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