Bread or Batons? The Old Market ‘Riots’ of February 1932
Since the ‘Wall Street Crash’ of 1929 joblessness in Bristol had risen to unprecedented levels; by February 1932 the situation was critical with whole districts blighted by the effects of mass unemployment.
Jobless Bristolians rallied round the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM), the main organisation opposing mass unemployment and Government ‘means test’. The NUWM responded to the proposed austerity measures by organising a series of pickets, mass meetings and marches of thousands. February 1932 saw several violent confrontations on Old Market St between unemployed demonstrators and Bristol Police which became known as the Old Market ‘Riots’.
This talk will examine both the context and anatomy of these serious incidents, and in the process expose the tactics and strategies of the NUWM and the Police.
Dr Roger Ball is an independent scholar specialising in the analysis of urban ‘riot’ and protest. He is the author of several works on labour unrest in Bristol and is currently researching strikes, mutinies and combat refusals in the British Armed forces during World War I.
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Part of a series of free talks at Trinity – Vice & Virtue: Discovering the History of Old Market 1900-2005 – invites you to a series of talks by local and national experts on the many aspects of Old Market’s History. We will be looking beneath the area’s reputation and exploring the many cultures that have lived here, its national significance as an area of architectural conservation and key moments of historical interest.