1932 Old Market Riot Map

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Subjects: Radical Bristol, Riots & Disturbances
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On Tuesday 23rd February an estimated 3,000 to 15,000 protesters from the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM) march to protest about a cut in unemployment benefits. The police had banned the march but the NUWM were not deterred. The peaceful procession followed a winding route but ended up on Old Market Street where they were faced by a double row of police with batons drawn and backed up by mounted officers at the junction with Castle Street. The marchers were unaware that the Chief Constable had planned in advance to ambush the NUWM leadership by secreting a large number of police in the annex to the Empire Cinema on Carey’s Lane. The march halted at the police line but as the crush of marchers forced the front ranks forwards, the police launched an assault on the head of the procession. Almost simultaneously the hidden police charged out of the Cinema annex and split the march in two. In the confusion, the police attempted to break up the procession by beating and chasing the protestors up Old Market Street however, they were faced by determined resistance.

  1. Union Street: Location of police baton charge on Welsh Hunger marchers and their Bristolian supporters on evening of September 7th 1931.
  2. Old Market Street/Carey’s Lane: Site of police cordon diverting NUWM from marching to the Council House on February 9th 1932. Followed by police baton charge.
  3. The Haymarket: Known these days as the Horsefair this park was a regular assembly point for NUWM marches. Scene of disturbance on the evening of February 9th 1932.
  4. Castle Street/Old Market Street: Site of the police cordon and flashpoint on NUWM demonstration February 23rd 1932.
  5. Empire Cinema, Carey’s Lane: Ambush from behind on NUWM marchers by police secreted in the annex on February 23rd 1932.
  6. Old Market Street: Police baton charge on NUWM marchers on afternoon of February 23rd 1932 immortalised in the photograph on the front cover of this pamphlet.
  7. Lawfords Gate: Centre of serious ‘rioting’ on afternoon of February 23rd 1932 which spread into St. Judes and St. Phillips.
  8. Welsh Back: The NUWM held many evening rallies here including February 23rd 1932.
  9. Bridge Street: Stampede by hundreds of Bristolians supporting the NUWM marchers on evening of February 23rd 1932.
  10. Castle Street: Major shopping street, scene of disturbance on the evening of February 23rd 1932 and location of the police ambush on east Bristol NUWM demonstrators returning home on the night of June 9th 1932 (70 injured).
  11. Peter Street: Site of the Public Assistance Committee Office, scene of many NUWM pickets and demonstrations.
  12. Marybush Lane: The NUWM held their weekly meetings in the School Room.
  13. Corn Street: Location of the City Council building.
  14. The Ropewalk: Common meeting point for NUWM demonstrations.
  15. Central Police Station, Bridewell.
  16. West Street: The NUWM office was at No. 78.


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