Thug

In the cabinet in M-Shed dedicated to the Reform Act uprising of 1831 are displayed two objects roughly tubular and of similar length that represent the extent of the uprising and the brutality with which it was put down. One is an arm bone that belonged to one of those who died when the Customs House in Queens Square was liberated and then torched. Peter MacDonald in his book ‘Hotheads and Heroes’ described the scene thus: just as the roof fell in a man toppled out of the end window and crashed […]

Bristol History Commission – some questions….

In the aftermath of the pulling down of the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston on 7th June, elected Mayor Marvin Rees announced the formation of a 'History Commission' to "help us tell our full city history" and to "shape the future of Bristol". Since the announcement we have waited for some clarity about the Commission, its members, processes, timescales and remit but none have appeared. Several people have asked questions of the Mayor's Office but received no answers (as yet). As Bristol […]

SWINE

Not far from Queen’s Square stands the statue of Edmund Burke. Had he lived to witness the 1831 Reform Act uprising and a protestor astride the statue of one of his beloved royals all his anti-democratic bile that led him to write his Reflections on the Revolution in France would have been reinforced. It was in that book that he wrote: Along with the natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude Now as the Saint-Just […]

Hero: Samuel Plimsoll

In 1871 alone, 856 British merchant ships were lost within ten miles of the British coast in conditions that were no worse than a strong breeze. Between 1870 and 1872, 1628 sailors were sent to prison in Britain for refusing to go to sea in ships that the sailors would refer to as ‘coffin ships.’ On the dockside opposite the SS Great Britain stands the bust of Samuel Plimsoll MP and on it’s plinth is engraved the ‘Plimsoll Line’. This was a simple idea that showed if a ship was overloaded. […]

Colston slept with the fishes

In April 2019 The Saint-Just Mob subverted the statue of Edward Colston with the word DROWN. The following article first appeared on the BRHG Facebook page in the same month. Republishing it here seems apposite as he slept with the fishes for a few days at the bottom of the very docks where slave ships bound for Africa would have moored and now skulks in the basement of M Shed. The statues of Samuel Plimsoll and Edward Colston stand within half a mile of each other and share one thing in common […]

Lydney: Black Lives Matter and the Bathursts

Lydney Town Council has attempted to ban a Black Lives Matter event arranged to take place in Bathurst Park, Lydney at 2 pm – 4 pm Saturday 20 June. Forest of Dean Black Lives Matter has issued a statement on their Facebook Page which includes the following: We cannot continue to allow this oppression in our society; the primary purpose of this event to begin with was to challenge this and to encourage change, it is sad that you have prevented from us doing so. We do not wish to, and we will not […]

Kick over the statues….Colston is going…going…gone

Over the last few years in arguments over the commemoration, celebration and memorialisation of slaver-traders we have been told many times that the so-called 'traditions' of Bristol must be protected. That is code for not changing anything; names of buildings, schools and statues, which are all part of the memorial landscape of Bristol created over the last couple of centuries largely by the merchant and business elite. Well, there is another great historical tradition in Bristol, that is […]

Mike Baker – an Easton legend

It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Mike Baker on 12th March 2020 at the BRI. I first met Mike Baker around twenty years ago when he was leading a local history walk around Easton with fellow historian Jim McNeil. Mike and Jim were leading members of the excellent local history group Living Easton and they had been asked to host a group of young German trade unionists who were visiting the Easton Cowboys and Girls Sports Club. Afterwards in The Plough, the Cowboys HQ, Mike […]

John ‘O’ Reiley – ‘Man of Fire’.

Men of Fire Front Cover
For Christmas 2019 I bought my father a copy of BRHG’s pamphlet ‘Men of Fire -Work, Resistance and Organisation of Bristol Gasworkers in the Nineteenth Century'. Since his retirement he has been researching family history and I remembered that there was an ancestor who worked as a gas stoker in Bristol. We assumed Eastville as, in his youth, my father supported Bristol Rovers and we didn’t know there were two other coal gas production sites in Bristol. After both reading ‘Men of Fire’ we agreed […]

Graham Caine (1945-2018)

Sad news that Graham Caine of Street Farm and the Bristol Gnomes died on 19th September. As well as being the Street Farmer who designed and lived in the first ecological house, Graham was responsible for distinctive Bristolian 'Gnomework' such as St Werburghs City Farm Café and the 'Gnome House’ in Boiling Wells. Graham was a great representative of the 1968 generation and spoke passionately of how the events in Paris 1968 inspired him in England. Meeting fellow Street Farmers Peter Crump and […]