Bread Or Batons?

Unemployed Workers' Struggles in 1930s Bristol

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The banking crisis of 2008 and the following deep recession experienced by the world economy have led to mass unemployment and poverty in the U.K. Massive public sector cuts along with huge financial bonuses for the wealthy have exacerbated the systemic divisions between ‘rich and poor’ which lie at the heart of the neo-liberal economy. For many commentators the spectre of economic depression has raised its ugly head once again. It thus seems apt to look back at Bristol in the period of the last […]

The Peculiar History Of The Sect Known As The Quakers

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Who were the Quakers? Why were they persecuted? Why did they stop being radical? How did some of Bristol’s Quakers become so rich? From James Naylor’s blasphemous ride down Corn Street to William Penn being given Pennsylvania and Abraham Darby laying the foundations of the Industrial Revolution. This is the first of two pamphlets by Jim McNeill exploring the history of the Quakers in Bristol.

Anarchism in Bristol and the West Country to 1950

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Firstly some firsts. Bristol M.P. Edmund Burke was the author of what was perhaps the first anarchist tract; Westcountryman Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt first pioneered the use of the mass platform for ‘rabblerousing’ against the establishment; Bristol was the home of the first avowedly atheistic journal. This is a survey of home-grown anarchism, with its roots in a tradition of West Country radicalism. By the end of the Nineteenth Century explicitly anarchist sensibilities had already emerged as […]

A Barbarous And Ungovernable People

A Short History Of The Miners Of The Kingswood Forest

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"A barbarous and ungovernable people" is a bit of a strong condemnation of a community. Especially considering that at the time the community in question was situated on the outskirts of a vibrant city in Britain. The people of Kingswood Forest supplied the south west of England and the industries of Bristol with coal, and it is fair to say that without the Kingswood Forest coal Bristol would not be the city it is today. However, the relationship between the two communities was strained to say […]

Yesterday’s To-morrow

Bristol's Garden Suburbs

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In 1909, Bristol Garden Suburb Limited was set up to implement the ideas Ebenezer Howard popularised in To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform. However, Bristol’s most authentic Arts and Crafts-style garden suburb, in Shirehampton, boasted only two streets when the outbreak of the First World War halted construction. In the inter-war years, garden-city principles inspired the building programme designed to deliver ‘homes fit for heroes’, with developments at Sea Mills and the Fry’s chocolate […]

‘Race War’

Black American GIs in Bristol and Gloucestershire During World War II

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America's entry into World War II immediately served to highlight the issue of race relations and the contradictions between America's declared position as a defender of "freedom" and "democracy," and what was actually practiced. Prior to the D-Day landings of June 1944, there were just under 1.6 million American forces personnel located in various parts of the U.K, with the largest numbers gathered in the southwest. The pubs in Bristol were segregated with some serving whites only, others, […]

Cry Freedom, Cry Seven Stars

Thomas Clarkson In Bristol, 1787

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Cry Freedom, Cry World Heritage Site In 1787 abolitionist Thomas Clarkson researched the slave trade with help from Landlord Thompson while staying at The Seven Stars public house in Bristol. This pamphlet looks at how the histories of the pub and the abolition movement are intertwined, and why it should be the first pub to have UNESCO World Heritage status. The Seven Stars public house is one of the most important buildings in the entire history of Bristol, if not the country. It stands as a […]

Hydra Books Opening Audio

Hydra books opened with a talk by Ian Bone on Saturday. Around 70 people turned up to listen to the talk and smell the still wet paint. Also, on Scouse Sunday Steve Higginson gave a talk about the 1911 dockers strike in Liverpool and Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign gave an update on the parliamentary debate, the Hillsborough Panel and the BBC's freedom of information request. Below you can find audio of all of these talks. Ian Bone - 1919 – Year of Revolution' Maria […]

Seven Stars, Slavery and Freedom!

The frontispiece from Clarksons essay.
The Seven Stars pub in St Thomas Lane (next to the Fleece and Firkin) is without doubt a remarkable pub. It has survived the Blitz, post and pre war planners, new roads (such as Victoria Street) and all of the brewery ‘re-organisations’ and changes in fashion. It even lost the community that surrounded it, but it’s still there, a beacon on our past. The reason its survival is so important is due to one man, Thomas Clarkson, and if it wasn’t for Bristol Civic Society nobody would have been aware […]