Bristol Radical History Group

Since 2006 BRHG have organised over 250 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 have also recently become 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.

 

Bristol Radical History Festival: Saturday 12th October

This year's Festival at M Shed has two themes:
  • 1919: Britain and Ireland in the 'Year of Revolutions'
  • Green History: From 18th Century roots to Extinction Rebellion
It’s not just talks! Expect walks, films, puppet shows, storytelling and exhibitions. All events are free! More details here...    

New BRHG pamphlet: Facing up to the Fascists

Facing up to Fascists front coverAs 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 National Front in Bristol in the 1970s and 80s – and won. Read more here...

New BRHG booklet: Refusing to Kill – buy it here

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 A4 booklet tells the story of these COs and the men and women who supported them and can now be purchased online here...

 

 

Recent Books

Radical Culture

Worral's book concentrates on the period of the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars. The narrative is based mainly in London, and looks at those who wanted to replicate the […] More

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

Recent Articles

The South West Tribunal

Foreword During the Second World War, over 60,000 men and 1,000 women applied to register as conscientious objectors (COs) in England, Wales and Scotland. Although this was at […] More

The last piece of the jigsaw

Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them Introduction One evening in 2010 some members of Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) were poring over some old maps of […] More

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

Recent Pamphlets

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

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

Recent Events

Reflections on Radical Technology in the 1970s (Level […]

Peter Harper coined the term ‘Alternative Technology’ in 1972 and became Head of Innovation at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). During the mid-1970s, he co-edited […] More

Roots of Resistance: Earth First! (Level 1, Performance […]

A live animation show celebrating twenty years of the environmental direct-action network Earth First! It gathers together the stories of many activists – from the treetops of […] More

Strikes and riots: British servicemen in 1919 (Level 1, […]

“We want out” - Bristol and the British armed forces strikes of January 1919 Roger Ball The massive wave of discontent which swept through the British armed forces at the end of […] More

Film screenings on 1919: Tiger Bay is my Home; […]

In case you missed them… we will repeat our screening of two films relating to the events of 1919. Screening times are approximate. Tiger Bay Is My Home (early 1980s, Colin […] More

[Cancelled] History walk 2: Romantic, Radical […]

Update 11/10/2019 Unfortunately, Molly is currently unwell so it is unlikely that this walk will go ahead tomorrow.   This walk explores how ideas of the environment have […] More

Back to the land (Level 1, Studio 2)

In 1973 Kath Holden helped found a small commune based on a 135-acre dairy farm in West Wales. She went on to become a smallholder in the same area and disputed her entitlement to […] More

Red Notes Choir performance (Ground Floor)

Catch the Red Notes Choir, who will support the Bristol Radical History Festival by performing on the Ground Floor by the M Shed main entrance. The Red Notes Choir is a […] More

Film screening: Reclaim The Streets: The Film (Level 2)

Screening time is approximate. Reclaim The Streets: The Film (various, c1998, 50 minutes) Reclaim The Streets was a prominent 1990’s network of collectives that organised mass […] More

Bridport 1919: conflict and tensions in a small […]

At the start of World War One Bridport was essentially a one industry town: rope and net making. The war brought opportunities to the town but also challenged paternalist employers […] More

(Repeat) Talk on Regional Radical Press in Britain […]

Prof. Steve Poole (UWE Bristol) will give an overview of the Recovering the Regional Radical Press in Britain 1968-88 project, highlighting the publications in the exhibition on […] More

Environmental activism in the 1980s and 1990s (Level 1, […]

The present-day ecology movement emerged among the new social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Its immediate influences were varied. They included the Aldermaston marches of the […] More

A people’s history of poetry (Level 1, […]

Hot-foot from Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Bristol’s Pete Bearder will be sharing perspectives on the radical history of performance poetry, based on his recent performance work. His […] More

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