Refusing to Kill

Bristol's World War I conscientious objectors

Refusing to Kill front cover
Over 580 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1. They claimed the status of conscientious objector (CO) for moral, religious or political reasons. Some agreed to take non-military roles while others spent much of the war in prison, often under harsh conditions. This booklet and the exhibition on which it is based tell the story of these COs and the men and women who supported them. It also briefly considers COs in World War 2 as well as the position for present day members of […]

Steps Against War

A history walk with puppets discovering untold stories of Bedminster people in the First World War

Otherstory puppetry will be leading a history walk with a difference on April 7th in Bedminster. The walk will use the medium of puppetry to tell the untold stories of Bedminster people who resisted the First World War, and who refused to kill. Otherstory have devised and organised the walk with local people and in collaboration with Remembering the Real World War 1 history group. The walk will start at the Tobacco Factory Cafe Bar and wind its way through Southville, along North Street and part […]

This Evil Thing

You can't force a man to murder against his will

Anyone who saw Michael Mears’ one-man show ‘This Evil Thing’ in Bristol Cathedral in October 2017 will know what a powerful piece of theatre it is. We are now pleased to present two new performances, linked to the Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience festival at the end of April. The two performances (3.30pm and 7.30pm) take place on Sunday April 21st – Easter Sunday in the atmospheric surroundings of the crypt of St John the Baptist Church, one of Bristol’s oldest medieval buildings. […]

Mabel Tothill

Feminist, socialist, pacifist

Mabel Tothill Front Cover
June Hannam’s pamphlet examines the life and work of Mabel Tothill (1869 – 1964), Quaker peace campaigner, socialist and Bristol’s first woman councillor. It reveals how this committed social activist was part of a complex network of individuals and organisations working to improve the lives of Bristol women and men. As a campaigner for women’s suffrage and a stalwart of the Independent Labour Party, Mabel saw the causes of women and labour as intertwined. Her interest in education and desire to […]

Lest we forget – A Life of Pleasure?

The machine gun, colonial massacres and the Victorian theatre

A Life of Pleasure After a tip off last year by a member of BRHG I took a trip to Bristol Archives to take a look at some diaries written by Harry Bow in the 1890s. Bow, a Bristolian, was an enthusiastic 'army spotter', that is, he loved to record and illustrate public displays of the British military in the late Victorian period. Amongst the notes and beautiful line drawings recording parades, army camps and the use of cavalry against Bristolian trade unionists and their supporters on 'Black […]

Slaughter No Remedy, Harry Patch, Walter Ayles and the First World War

At the Assembly Rooms, Christchurch St West, Frome

For Harry Patch and Walter Ayles, the outbreak of the First World War was a testing time. From sharply different backgrounds, they initially responded very differently, Harry becoming a member of a machine gun team on the Western Front, Walter going to prison as a conscientious objector. But they ended up with the same perspective on ‘the war to end wars’. The talk will be illustrated with excerpts from television programmes made by the speaker. Non-Members £3 extra for outings or talks

How did World War One end?

And how is this remembered?

The centenary of the end of WW1 in 1918 will be widely commemorated across the country on Remembrance Sunday this year. However, the military style parades and ceremonies send a mixed message. On the one hand they are a moving display of mourning for the dead. On the other they tend towards a celebration of British military virtues, the heroic defeat of Germany and recent claims that WW1 was a 'just' or 'necessary' war. The popular memory in the UK of an allied 'victory' in 1918 leaves many […]

History walk – ‘Canting Humbugs’: Resistance and reaction in Bristol during World War One

This 1.5 hour history walk led by members of the Remembering the Real World War One history group explores resistance to the conflict in Bristol. From mass meetings of trade unionists opposing intervention in the war, to the struggles against conscription and the role of Conscientious Objectors this walk uncovers hidden histories and dispels some myths along the way. It also considers the divisions that arose amongst comrades in the labour movement, Socialists, Christians and those fighting for […]

Otherstory puppet show: Taking a Holiday

Taking a Holiday tells the amazing story of the secret beneath a Bedminster bike shop. It is a story of struggle in wartime – full of intrigue, escapes, comradeship…and bikes. What does it mean to be a refugee and on the run in your own country? Who will give you a bed for the night, a job… or a means of escape? A table top and shadow puppet show based on the true stories of ordinary people in 1916/17, and the hidden history of the resistance to the war machine. Otherstory will be performing […]

Film Screening: Niemandsland – No Man’s Land – Hell on Earth

“One of the most effective anti-war films ever produced” New York Times

During World War One, five soldiers from different nations end up together amongst ruins in no man’s land and decide to stick together. Shot in 1931, this is the first international ‘talkie’, with music by Hans Eisler, the composer of “The Threepenny Opera”. One of its main characters was played by Lewis Douglas, a black American actor, and this made the film especially hateful to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels who ordered every copy of the film to be destroyed. But one survived, hence the […]