Insurrectionary Bristol: 1932

Revolt of the Unemployed : Bread or Batons in Bristol c. 1932. As unemployment topped 3 million and the Labour government collapsed, benefit cuts and the means test sparked unrest across the country. In 1932 Bristol was briefly at the forefront of the protests which rocked the country. The mass demonstrations met brutal repression including police ambushes and the arrest of key activists. This will discuss the character of the movement, tracing its roots back to the ex-servicemen's protests of […]

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 […]

Tolpuddle And Swing

The Flea And The Elephant

Tolpuddle and Swing Front Cover
In 1834 six Dorset farm labourers were tried and condemned to transportation to Australia for joining an early Trade Union. Since then the ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’ have become an iconic part of modern British History. Three years before the events in Tolpuddle much of rural England was rocked by a massive uprising of farm labourers known as the ‘Swing Riots’. This pamphlet analyses why ‘Tolpuddle’ has taken its place in the popular memory, and why the far more significant events of ‘Swing’ have been […]

John Desmond Audio

Below is more audio from the week of talks to mark the opening of Hydra Books at 34 Old Market. Lessons from the Tredegar Medical Aid Society Speaker: John Desmond The Tredegar Medical Aid Society was founded in Tredegar in South Wales in 1890. In return for a contribution from its members it supplied free health care. This society contributed the model which established the British National Health Service The provenance of John’s talk is a series of events which began last year. After […]

Tolpuddle and Swing: The Flea and the Elephant

‘One and all, one and all, we’ll stand by one another’ Chant of a Sussex Swing mob (1830) ‘We will destroy the constables and threshing machines this year, next year we will have a turn with the parsons, and the third we will make war upon the statesmen’ Kent Swing activist (1830) Introduction In February this year a couple of members of Bristol Radical History Group travelled to Salisbury Guild Hall to witness the unveiling of a Trade Union plaque to commemorate the people who had passed […]