In collaboration with radical historians from south of the river, Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) are putting on a series of events over the autumn of 2022 looking at the hidden histories of their neighbourhoods.

The first set of events is the Bedminster-Southville history festival in September and early October which features events on the history of tobacco and the experiences of those who worked in the Wills and Churchmans factories as well as talks and films on mining, squatting the White City after WWII, resistance to World War One and the Bedminster workhouse.

In November and December we move further south to uncover the late-nineteenth century socialist and green influences on the garden suburbs of Filwood, the conflict that produced the Hartcliffe Estate, the secret history of swimming pools, as well as the mass and militant resistance to fascism in the 1930s and how parent power saved Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools in Withywood and Hartcliffe from closure.

But this is not just about us blabbing on….as we have discovered over the last 16 years, we carry stories through our families about these historical events whether the experiences of moving onto the brand new council estates, working in the tobacco factories or kicking the Blackshirts out. So if you have stories, artifacts, letters or dairies please bring them to the talks as they are the stuff history is made of in Bristol.

All the events are free as our libraries and community centre are offering their spaces for free. BRHG is not funded by political parties, universities, business or local government. We rely on our members giving their labour for free and sales of our publications to break even.


Filwood Library: Filwood Broadway, Bristol BS4 1JN

Hartcliffe Community Centre: Hareclive Rd, Bristol BS13 0JW

Bishopsworth Library: Bishopsworth Rd, Bristol BS13 7LN

Bedminster Library: 4 Bedminster Parade, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4AQ

Tobacco Factory: Raleigh Rd, Bristol, BS3 1TF

Southville Centre: Beauley Rd, Southville, Bristol BS3 1QG


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

Talks (drag left/right):

Date Time Location Title Details With Link
, 2022

Tobacco Factory Bedminster’s Tobacco Women   This talk is based on a community oral history project, that in 2014, explored the lived history of local people who worked in the tobacco factories in Bedminster and Ashton. It offers an […] Helen Thomas
, 2022

Bedminster Library Bedminster Workhouse: The Life and Death of Hannah Wiltshire   In 1855 rumours of murder and a cover up were circulating in the small north Somerset village of Walton-in-Gordano. An epileptic destitute country girl, Hannah Wiltshire, had died in the […] Rosemary L Caldicott
, 2022

Tobacco Factory 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
, 2022

Bedminster Library Mining in Bedminster and the Dean Lane pit disaster Many of those who crowd the streets of Bedminster during Upfest or for the Winter Lantern Parade are probably oblivious that they are actually deep in mining country. For many residents, the idea that […] Tony Dyer
, 2022

Southville Centre ‘Girls, Wives, Factory Lives’ – looking back to Churchmans after fifty years I entered the shop floor of the small Bristol tobacco factory, Churchmans, in 1972. I wanted see, hear and smell the work and to talk to women manual workers about their work, their lives and their […] Anna Pollert
, 2022

Bedminster Library The Gas Girls – a hidden history of World War One In a tribute to the community theatre group acta based in Gladstone Street, Bedminster and their 2014 play Gas Girls, Christine Townsend examines the exposure of a piece of lost Bristolian history […] Christine Townsend
, 2022

Tobacco Factory Nicotiana Brittanica – tobacco and forced labour   England, tobacco and forced labour Roger Ball will outline the symbiotic relationship between the colonisation of the Americas in the seventeenth Century and the production of tobacco as a […] Roger Ball,
Will Simpson
, 2022

Filwood Library South Bristol’s Garden Suburbs and Swimming Pools 7.00pm, Tuesday 22nd November, Filwood Library, Filwood Broadway, Bristol BS4 1JN The garden-city movement has had a significant impact on the development of Bristol as we know it. It aimed to create […] Stephen E. Hunt
, 2022

Filwood Library The battle of Melvin Square – Knowle West and anti-fascism in the 1930s 7.00pm, Tuesday 29th November, Filwood Library, Filwood Broadway, Bristol BS4 1JN During the 1930’s militant antifascism against Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts was ingrained and established amongst the […] Paul Kingdon,
Lee Groves
, 2022

Hartcliffe Community Centre Hartcliffe: the estate born out of conflict 7.00pm, Wednesday 30 November, Hartcliffe Community Centre, Hareclive Rd, Bristol BS13 0JW The talk will cover the conflicts around the building of Hartcliffe on the outskirts of Bristol. The promise […] Paul Smith
, 2022

Bishopsworth Library Parent Power: the fight against the closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools in Withywood and Hartcliffe 7.00pm, Weds 7th December, Bishopsworth Library, Bishopsworth Rd, Bristol BS13 7LN In October 2000, Bristol City Council announced that it was considering shutting Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary […] Mike Richardson
, 2022 Bishopsworth Library The Rise and Fall of Edward Colston 7.00pm, Tues 13th December, Bishopsworth Library, Bishopsworth Rd, Bristol BS13 7LN In November 2014 the Bishop of Bristol, preaching to school students, claimed that ‘speculation’ about the ‘business […] Roger Ball,
Mark Steeds

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