Saturday 14th May 10.00am – 4.30pm

Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) have organised a full programme of events for our 2022 Radical History Festival, in collaboration with our hosts at M Shed. We have a great line up of speakers including:

This is a free event, and all are welcome!


The 2022 Festival has two main themes, where once again we will reveal hidden histories, debate and agitate for a future of better pasts:

  • State and private surveillance of labour and social movements (1792 to now)Studio 2 on Level 1
  • Hidden histories of post-war Britain (1945-51) – Studio 1 on Level 1

State and private surveillance of labour and social movements (1792 to now)

When environmental campaigners exposed Mark Kennedy as an undercover police officer (or spycop) in October 2010, after a seven-year posting, outrage ensued over the fact he had coerced a number of female activists into relationships, and taken part in criminal actions.

Numerous other spycops were (and are being) exposed after this, forcing the Government to set up the Undercover Policing Inquiry into the activities of its undercover operations through the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) since 1968. The cover-up, and whitewash, was underway, utilising multiple arms of the British state. But as we will show in this theme, surveillance activities by both the British state and private/corporate entities have been ongoing for centuries, often working together, hand in glove.

From fears in the aftermath of the French revolution in the 1790s, republicanism and the struggles for democracy to resistance to World War One and the rise of anti-racist and Black Power groups in the 1960s, the British state through spying has attempted to neutralise, suppress and stymie progressive labour and social movements. And they didn’t stop yesterday…hello Special Branch!

For a brief overview of this theme, check out BRHG’s pamphlet ‘State Snooping – Spooks, Cops & Double-Agents’ by Colin Thomas, published February 2021.

Hidden histories of post-war Britain (1945-51)

Post World War Two we find a Britain with its treasuries exhausted after paying for the war; a diminishing world power supported by colonies it could no longer afford to maintain, nor contain. However, its citizens were determined not to be short-changed again, as they were after World War One.

We will share hidden histories of successful popular campaigns and direct action in Britain, for housing, social reforms, civil and labour rights. From mass squatting of defunct army bases and the refusal of wartime ID cards to the struggle against the death penalty and international labour solidarity, these struggles were led from below rather than merely being the actions of a reforming Labour government.

These movements in Britain were concurrent with struggles for independence in the colonies. We will explore whether this progressive wave on the mainland was reflected in how the British state approached the struggles for colonial liberation.

It’s Not All Talks

So, you’ll know it’s not just going to be talks, discussions and workshops!

Once again we will have:

  • history walks
  • films
  • singing
  • exhibition
  • stalls with books and merchandise from local and national groups

Not to be missed – visit the Level 2 foyer to see the Feminist Archive South’s Politics and Protest: Posters from the Women’s Liberation Movement exhibition.

M Shed

This will be our 4th Festival, which once again is hosted by M Shed, Bristol’s social history museum located on the historic harbourside. Directions to M Shed.

All our events at M Shed are free – all are welcome!
NB: You should be able to just walk in on arrival; but later arrivals concerned about a possible short wait to get in can pre-book an entry time slot via the M Shed event listing here.

Other Events

We have several events in the run up to the BRH Festival 2022:

7th May, 1.00pm: Stroud History Walk – John Thelwall – ‘The most dangerous man in England’ – meet Lockkeeper’s Cafe at Walbridge, Stroud, GL5 3JS.


Stalls will be on the Level 1 Foyer. Confirmed are…
Active DistributionAnarchist Communist GroupBloom and Curll BookshopBristol AFedBristol Radical History GroupBristol SolFedBristol Squatted ProjectBristol & Bath Cuba Solidarity CampaignEarth First! UKLong John Silver TrustMayDay RoomsPeoples Republic of Stokes CroftProtect Our NHS (Bristol)Remembering Real WWI GroupSixPointsCardiffTangent Books • White Horse (Wiltshire) TUC bookstall


For download we have our poster as pdfs: BRHF2022poster_portrait and BRHF2022poster_landscape.
Plus our flyer too as pdfs: BRHF22_flyerfront and BRHF22_flyerback.

Publicity and Info can also be shared via the #BRHF2022 FB event and @BrisRadHis on twitter

Please download and share widely – invite your friends and comrades!


The following programme of events will be updated regularly – check back soon!

Saturday 14th May - Talks (drag left/right):

Date Time Location Title Details With Link
, 2022

Studio 1 on Level 1 1949 Dockers’ Strike in Avonmouth The 1949 Docks Strike was notable as an international solidarity action in support of strike action by Canadian seamen of the Canadian Seamen’s Union. Canadian employers had used scab crews (in the […] Di Parkin
, 2022

Studio 2 on Level 1 ‘To persecute a man for opinion is become so fashionable’: surveillance and the suppression of radical politics in Bristol, 1792-1820 In the aftermath of the French Revolution the spread of republican, democratic ideas led to a spying campaign by the British state Steve Poole
, 2022 Studio 2 on Level 1 ‘Spies and Troublemakers in Wales – 1914-1918’ Aled Eirug author of The Opposition to the Great War in Wales 1914-1918 (UWP, 2018) looks at the activity of intelligence agencies in South Wales during World War One, and the blacklisting of […] Aled Eirug
, 2022

Studio 1 on Level 1 ‘How Labour Governed’ – 1945-1951 1945: The war in Europe has just ended and the Labour Party wins a resounding general election victory. What follows is celebrated on much of the left as a period of progressive government which […] Gary Stacey
, 2022

Studio 2 on Level 1 ‘Malevolence Imposes Vigilance’: State and Corporate Surveillance (1911-1921) The modern relationship between the British state and corporate surveillance dates back to a time of rapid industrial change between 1911 and 1921, when socialism and syndicalism formed a key part of […] Nick Hiley
, 2022

Studio 1 on Level 1 Set the people free – post-war opposition to ID cards Roger Ball will outline how during the Second World War the government introduced compulsory ID cards as part of their emergency measures. It was not until seven years after the War that ID cards were […] Roger Ball,
Bristol Copwatch
, 2022

Studio 2 on Level 1 ‘Secret and delicate sources’: UK Black Power and undercover policing Black Power in Britain started in 1967, reached its apogee in 1971 and was in terminal decline by the mid-1970s. It was an expression of frustration, anger and – most importantly – resistance to the […] Rosie Wild,
Winston Trew
, 2022

Studio 1 on Level 1 Why didn’t the reforming Labour government of 1945-51 abolish the death penalty? Individual Labour MPs such as Sidney Silverman were significant to campaigning for abolition of the death penalty in Britain and the Labour Party was more hospitable to the idea of abolition than the […] Lizzie Seal
, 2022 Level 2 Foyer Politics and Protest: Posters from the Women’s Liberation Movement 1970-2000 We are pleased to host this exhibition at the BRHFestival 2022 on 14th May at Mshed. You can view the exhibition from 10am to 4pm, at the Level 2 foyer, inside Mshed. Talk - 2pm at the Level 2 Foyer, […] Sue Tate
, 2022

Studio 2 on Level 1 The Spycops scandal from 1968 to present Our panel of speakers will address the scandal of the Spycops, the hitherto secret operations of undercover cops spying inside labour and social movements since 1968. Since the scandal became public […] Eveline Lubbers,
Kevin Blowe,
Emily Apple
, 2022

Studio 1 on Level 1 ‘A Black life lived large’ – Pearl Prescod, 1920-1966, Caribbean/British actor, singer, activist The arrival of the Empire Windrush, which docked in Tilbury in June 1948, bringing 492 migrants from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands was part of the large scale migration of British […] Colin Prescod
, 2022

Studio 1 on Level 1 Stolen Paradise: the post-war squatting movement in Bristol During the summer of 1946, thousands of British families took the law into their own hands to temporarily solve their housing problems by "requisitioning" empty military camps. This mass-squatting […] Eugene Byrne,
Bristol Squatted

Saturday 14th May - Walks (drag left/right):

Date Time Location Title Details With Link
, 2022 Outside M Shed The fall of Colston – the true story   Since the fall of the slave-trader Edward Colston's statue in June 2020 the government, institutions, local politicians and his defenders, the Society of Merchant Venturers, have all been […] Christine Townsend,
Mark Steeds
, 2022 Outside The Mardyke pub BS8 Angela Carter and the Bristol counterculture   Steve Hunt of Bristol Radical History Group will lead a stroll around some old haunts associated with Angela Carter and the 1960s and 1970s counterculture. Join Steve to reimagine the area […] Stephen E. Hunt

Saturday 14th May - Performance (drag left/right):

Date Time Location Title Details With Link
, 2022 Outside Mshed Red Notes Choir Performance Catch Bristol's wonderful Red Notes Choir, who will support the Bristol Radical History Festival by performing at 12 noon. They'll be singing outside Mshed on the harbourside...unless it rains, when […] Red Notes Choir

Saturday 14th May - Films (drag left/right):

Date Time Location Title Details With Link
, 2022

Film Room on Level 1 Struggles for Black Community Struggles for Black Community, made for Channel 4 at the beginning of the 1980s, chart some of the milestones in Black people’s fight for justice – Notting Hill in 1958, Powell and the numbers game, […]
, 2022

Film Room on Level 1 Blacklisting and corporate surveillance Blacklisted - the whole story (2016, 45minutes, Tom Wood/Reel News) This film is an account of the system of blacklisting operated by the UK construction industry. It includes interviews with […]
, 2022

Film Room on Level 1 Everyone’s Wally Biographical documentary on Wally Hope of the tribe of Wallies who founded the Stonehenge Free Festivals in the 1970s. His is a tale of mystical visions, pharmaceutically induced nightmares, high […] Wally Dean
, 2022

Film Room on Level 1 Hughesovka and the New Russia   Here is the history of one Ukraine town, a microcosm of Russia, before its independence in 1991. Hughesovka, (later Stalino and Donestk) was a mining and steel town founded in the 1870s by […]


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