James Nayler Commemoration

Be 'your own personal Jesus' and join in with the 'Hosannas' as James Nayler, his palm wielding Cancan Dancers and a troop of Roundhead pike and musketmen parade from the Centre via Corn St. to Castle Green. Refuse to 'doff your caps' to the agents of the Crown and celebrate freedom from the religious hierarchy. Dress : Floppy Hats Attitude : Blasphemous If you see this text the video has failed to play. Please let us know by emailing brh@brh.org.uk.

John the Painter

The First Modern Terrorist

By Jessica Warner
During the early days of the American Revolution, James Aitken, alias John the Painter, set fire to the Royal Navy dockyards of Portsmouth and Bristol, briefly striking terror into the hearts of the English. Completely forgotten today, Aitken strove to gain notoriety through various criminal acts, culminating in the arson he committed in support of the American rebels. Warner traces Aitken's life from his restless childhood in the poverty and grime of Old Town, Edinburgh, to his exploits as an […]

Ben Tillett

Ben Tillet Front Cover
This booklet concerns the life of a working-class Bristolian who, though tireless and outspoken in his early days in addressing the inequalities of society, nevertheless moved more and more towards a position of contempt for both the members of his own trade unions and the working people who voted for him as an MP. A study of Ben Tillett’s life contains, I think, lessons that will enable readers to deepen their understanding of the historical roots of ‘New Labour’ with its duplicity and […]

Bread Or Batons?

Unemployed Workers' Struggles in 1930s Bristol

Bread Or Batons? Font Cover
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

The Quakers Front Cover
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

Anarchism in Bristol and the West Country Front Cover
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

Barbarous And Ungovernable People Font Cover
"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

Front Cover
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

Race War Front Cover
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

Cry Freedom Cry Seven Stars Front Cover
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 […]