Edward Colston: A century of dissent and protest

Introduction During the furore about the renaming of the Colston Hall in 2017 a number of angry letter-writers to the Bristol Post claimed that the recent protests over Edward Colston were merely a ‘flash in the pan’ and a product of ‘woke’, faddist politics propagated by people from outside Bristol. This attempt to reduce the actions of groups and movements like Countering Colston and Black Lives Matter to a particular historical moment whilst the great weight of a supposed ‘tradition’, such as […]

Webinar – Pamphlet Launch – State Snooping: Spooks, Cops and Double Agents

Miscellaneous 2021
  “State snooping has increased, is increasing and ought to be decreased.” So argue Colin Thomas and Tim Beasley in the fifty-first pamphlet produced by the Bristol Radical History Group. It begins with the way that the government of Elizabeth 1 planted double agents amongst dissident Catholic groups and then traces how this infiltration continued through the centuries, targeting Luddites, Chartists, Irish nationalists, trade unionists, war protestors and climate campaigners. The booklet […]

State Snooping: Spooks, Cops and Double Agents

State Snooping front Covers. I man's face split in two, ha;f copper, half crusty activist.
Elizabeth I claimed that she had “no desire to open windows into men’s souls” while seeking to do just that. This pamphlet traces the way British governments have been snooping into the lives of its citizens ever since, culminating in the recent insidious Spy Cops Bill. State Snooping: Spooks, Cops and Double Agents, is the 51st in our series of BRHG pamphlets. It's the latest by one of our regular authors Colin Thomas. You can buy the pamphlet here for £3.00 inc p&p. State Snooping provides […]

State Snooping

Spooks, Cops and Double Agents

State Snooping front Covers. I man's face split in two, ha;f copper, half crusty activist.
In the 1550s Elizabeth I claimed that she had “no desire to open windows into men’s souls” while seeking to do just that. This pamphlet traces a near 500 year history of British governments snooping into the lives of its citizens. From the anti-Catholic paranoia of the sixteenth century to the effect of the radical ideas underlying the French Revolution of the eighteenth, the state increasingly expanded its surveillance activities. Industrialisation in the nineteenth century gave birth to mass […]

Activists’ Memories

In recent years there have been many initiatives to celebrate the contribution of particular groups in Bristol’s history, but we know a lot of good people and achievements are excluded or forgotten, including older people. We plan to bring their contributions to life to celebrate and share by collecting and publishing their oral histories through the Activists’ Memories project. The project is a collaboration between Bristol Older Peoples’ Forum (BOPF) and Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) […]

Book Bloc

In November 2010 Italian students demonstrating against Berlusconi’s education reforms introduced the concept of the Book Bloc for the first time. There was no irony intended, rather a statement of intent made concrete. It was saying to Berlusconi that if you make cuts that take away our books we will make our own books and turn them into weapons against your police enforcers who will be faced on the streets of Rome with Plato’s Republic, A Thousand Plateaus, Moby Dick, Don Quixote, Petronius’ […]

Black History Month 2020

Brecon slave trader plaque was removed, and a poem was penned!

During 2010, and during Black History Month no less, a plaque was quietly erected in the rural town of Brecon, Wales to commemorate the life of a slave trader and commander of the slave ship Hannibal without public consultation. African people were purchased by agents of The Royal African Company to undertake forced labour and childbearing as slaves for the accumulation of profit. In 1693 700 enslaved African women, men and children were forced below the decks of the Hannibal under the command […]

The Rise and Resistible fall of the NHS [postponed until further notice]

or NHS: Going, going, gone! or There is no God, bless the NHS

Since 2014 the Cartoon Action Theatre (CAT) have been performing short plays on the street and at events using a modern rhyming mummers' style, covering a diverse range of subjects including austerity, media bias, the arms trade, benefit sanctions, fracking, 'free trade' deals, the banksters, refugees, bus cuts and climate change. At this year's radical history festival they will be launching their new play on the creation of the National Health Service. CAT have also recently published a DIY […]

Angela Carter’s ‘Provincial Bohemia’

The counterculture in 1960s and 1970s Bristol and Bath

Front cover with a portrait of Angela Carter
Socialist and feminist novelist Angela Carter is one of the most acclaimed late-twentieth-century English writers, famous for short-story collections such as The Bloody Chamber and novels including Nights at the Circus and Wise Children. Angela Carter’s ‘Provincial Bohemia’ takes Carter’s life and work in Bristol (1961-1969) and Bath (1973-1976) as a starting point to explore the artistic, radical and experimental communities that flourished at that time. Newly recorded interviews and other […]

‘Secret and delicate sources’: UK Black Power and undercover policing [Postponed until further notice]

Black Power in Britain started in 1967, reached its apogee in 1971 and was in terminal decline by the mid-1970s. It was an expression of frustration, anger and – most importantly – resistance to the individual, institutional and state racism experienced by the postwar generation of black immigrants to Britain. The British state took the threat of Black Power very seriously, both at home and across the Commonwealth. When an international conference on Black Power took place in British […]