The Bristol strike wave of 1889-90 is one of, if not the most significant event in Bristol’s labour history. It threw up great fighters for the labour cause who should not be forgotten. They include, in no particular order, the Sharland brothers (Robert, Will, John and Tom), Robert Weare, Robert Gilliard, Robert Tovey, Robert Allan Nicol, Miriam Daniell, Helena Born, Dan Irving, Gertrude Dix, Katherine St John Conway, Enid Stacy, Paul Stacy, Hugh Holmes Gore, Edward J Watson, John Gregory, Albert Vincent, Mary Wheeler (Miriam’s sister), James Vickery, Francis Gilmore Barnett, Reverend Thomas William Harvey, James Watt Treasure, Harold Brabham, and William Baster, a few of whom are pictured below. The report of the of the Bristol Strike Committee published in the People’s Press, March 1890, and reproduced in Bristol Radical Pamphleteer #21, The Bristol Strike Wave of 1889-1890: Socialists, New Unionists and New Women, Part 2: Days of Doubt, summarised the feelings of labour activists at this tumultuous time:
The Bristol labour revolt against the tyranny of Capitalism was the logical outcome of the successful campaigns of the London gas stokers and dockers, and was the first utterance by the mass of the people of the socialistic truths, that “if any will not work neither shall he eat,” and that the workers must have the full result of their labour. With very few exceptions the workers gained honourable victories, their demands being indisputably just, and merely a tithe of their rights…Compared with other cities in England which have passed through similar crises the Bristol record of strikes is a very hopeful one, and the Committee confidently affirms that the enlightened view held by the majority of working men and women of this city augur well for the labour movement of the West of England.
This gallery contains portraits of the activists involved in the Bristol Strike Wave of 1889-90. It also contains some contemporary satirical cartoons from The Bristol Magpie.These pictures were found in Bristol Central Reference Library and you should contact them if you wish to reproduce them (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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