The Sons of Belial

Protest and Community Change in the North West 1740-70

By David Walsh
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 for the student or historian of the period. The book opens with an in depth examination of developing economic theories. It charts the shift from a largely agrarian, paternalistic society, to an industrialising nation, and rapid urbanisation. Furthermore, the study looks at the development of a mercantilist philosophy […]

History Walk 2: Bristol – Feeding the people

Markets, trade, transport and conflict (17th-19th Centuries)

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light
On this history walk we will discover how Bristolians were fed during the early modern era (17th-19th Centuries). Hear how a rapidly expanding urban area, without the ability to feed itself, was kept supplied. How Bristol in turn helped supply the rural hinterland and its relationship with Wales and the wider world. How the market system worked, and how it was regulated, at times by the civic authorities, or by the “moral economy” and the crowd. What happened when the chain broke, and how did […]

The Gallows Pole

By Benjamin Myers
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, you will see the rim is serrated. This is due to the age old crime of clipping. Back in the day, silver and gold coins were actually made of the precious metal. Coiners were engaged in slightly clipping the edges off, melting the scrapings and re-pressing coins. These would then be circulated. Nowadays, the Bank of […]

Studio 1: Starting the flame: Agitators, Conchies and Miners in the Forest of Dean

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light
In August 1917 a meeting of Forest of Dean Miners passed motions against the conscription of miners and in favour of an immediate negotiated peace to end the war. This talk will discuss the role agitators and conscientious objectors played in this process and what happened next. Ian Wright recently authored Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old: The Forest of Dean World War One Conscientious Objectors.

Studio 1: John Maclean and The War After The War

This talk places John Maclean's pamphlet The War After The War in its broader international and political context. Exploring connections (and differences) between the various international socialists fighting against World War One. These include James Connolly, Eugene Debs and Lenin. In the context of Brexit, Scotland's independence referendum and Trump, with political events increasingly viewed through the prism of nationalism at home and abroad we ask what now for Maclean's working class […]

History Walk 2: Riots, Massacres and Reform 1700s-1832

This 1.5 hour walk in the centre of Bristol takes us through a century of working class history, charting the path of the 'crowd' from the 'moral economy' of the 1700s, through the effects of the French Revolution to the 'Reform Riots' of 1831/2. So come and find out: Why Bristol merchants trembled if the Kingswood Colliers were in town How best to do 'collective bargaining by riot' What happened during the infamous Bristol Bridge massacre What a silver coin, some stolen hammers and a tricolour […]

The War after the War

In the light of the elements of working-class economics

“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 universal desire to secure increased empires for the deposit of capital, the enslavement and robbery of the conquered races, and the monopoly of the oil, rubber, tin, and other products of the annexed territories” – John Maclean (1918) Written in 1918, as World War One drew to its bloody close, The War after the War is […]

The Bristol Riots 1831 and the ‘Picketing of the Bristol Packet’ at Newport

This article was recently published in the excellent Chartism online magazine and is the result of a collaboration between BRHG and David Osmond, Ray Stroud, Peter Strong, Les James, historians from Newport and Cardiff. Our thanks to Les James for authoring the piece and allowing us to reproduce it. ​ Members from the Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) brought their bookstall to the 2016 Newport Chartist Convention held at the John Frost School. Di Parkin, Roger Ball, Maureen Ball, Steve Mills […]

Davis Day

From the Forest of Dean to Canadian labour history

When Thomas Davis and his wife Annis and their family from Pillowell in the Forest of Dean decided to emigrate to Canada in 1890 they could not have known that their choice would have tragic consequences or that their personal tragedy would be remembered in Canada to this day. One of their boys, Thomas, would be killed in one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian mining history and another, William, would be shot dead by the police in one of the most violent strikes in Canadian labour […]

A ‘night of infamy’: Black Friday, 1892

History Walk

Bristol was rocked by two major strike waves in the late 19th Century, the first (1889-90) marked the emergence of ‘new unionism’ representing male and (significantly) female unskilled and semi-skilled labourers. Victory in these strikes improved pay and conditions for workers but led to an organised counter-offensive by employers in the autumn of 1892. The response of workers was a second strike wave which united miners, dockers and female confectionary workers, culminating in 'Black Friday' on […]

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