Bristol – Hot spot of resistance to World War One

An excellent new book Communities of Resistance has just been published which takes a systematic look at the networks of war resisters connected to conscientious objectors in World War One. Based upon a nationwide survey of COs it appears Bristol was a hot spot of war resistance as the author, Cyril Pearce, explains: The work which has resulted in this new book, Communities of Resistance, began almost twenty years ago in a study of the 1914-1918 anti-war movement in Cyril Pearce's home town of […]

Book Bloc

In November 2010 Italian students demonstrating against Berlusconi’s education reforms introduced the concept of the Book Bloc for the first time. There was no irony intended, rather a statement of intent made concrete. It was saying to Berlusconi that if you make cuts that take away our books we will make our own books and turn them into weapons against your police enforcers who will be faced on the streets of Rome with Plato’s Republic, A Thousand Plateaus, Moby Dick, Don Quixote, Petronius’ […]

Benign Force? – The Society of Merchant Venturers

Shielded by their Royal Charter of 1552, the Society of Merchant Venturers (SMV) helped shape Bristol’s past and present, but will they shape the city’s future? Regarded today as the doyen of Bristol’s charities, this undemocratic, unelected club for wealthy business(men), is guardian to a goodly proportion of Bristol’s schools and university, presenting itself as an innocuous force for good. Others are convinced that the SMV are outdated and outmoded. The Charter was granted at the time of a […]

Bristol Festival of Literature: Colston, Fact And Fiction

This event is part of Bristol Festival of Literature and you can can register for the meeting here. In this two-part event authors Roger Ball and Mark Steeds of Bristol Radical History Group and Countering Colston discuss how facts, fictions and silences about the history of Edward Colston became part of the collective memory in the Victorian period and were subsequently challenged by historians, writers and artists. Ros Martin is a literary-based artist and activist of many years standing. She […]

Black History Month 2020

Brecon slave trader plaque was removed, and a poem was penned!

During 2010, and during Black History Month no less, a plaque was quietly erected in the rural town of Brecon, Wales to commemorate the life of a slave trader and commander of the slave ship Hannibal without public consultation. African people were purchased by agents of The Royal African Company to undertake forced labour and childbearing as slaves for the accumulation of profit. In 1693 700 enslaved African women, men and children were forced below the decks of the Hannibal under the command […]

Bristol History Commission – questions still not answered….

On 4th August Bristol Radical History Group sent a letter supported by the Remembering the Real World War One history group and Countering-Colston to the Mayor’s office concerning the Bristol History Commission (HC) which was set up by the elected Mayor Marvin Rees in response to the statue of Edward Colston being pulled down on 7th June. In the interests of transparency in the public domain and in the light of other recently failed projects the letter asked the Mayor for systematic answers to […]

On Brandon Hill

Popular Culture in Bristol since World War Two

By Nick Gilbert
This is an absolutely epic overview of Bristol culture – literary connections, film, music, gossip and much more since WW2. That’s around seven decades’ worth. You need to read it on an electronic device for two reasons: first, it’s an e-book; second, you will find yourself checking search engines, wikis, and music sites on every other page. In the words of the author, Nick Gilbert: "On Brandon Hill is the first ever comprehensive history of post-war Bristolian culture, and covers all the major […]

As Sylvie Was Walking

This story starts in the Forest of Dean with a riot and song and ends with an account of the struggle for the human rights of the visually impaired in Australia. The folk song As Sylvie Was Walking, made famous by Pentangle in 1969, has been traced to Ann Howell who was born in October 1832 at Broadwell Lane End, Forest of Dean, where she learnt it from her uncle. The Pentangle version, which can be viewed on YouTube, is called Once I had a Sweetheart and leaves out the first three verses. The […]

Memories of 1960s Bristol

I came to Bristol from Newport in South Wales in August 1962 when I was 12 years old. I had been brought up there and my family came from the Pontypool area. I had once been to Bristol Zoo on a school trip and spent a family holiday in a small caravan at Portishead, both times coming by trail under the Severn. I had also been on a school day trip by steamer from Cardiff Docks to Weston-super-mare when I was about 10. My family moved to Bristol because he had become a Methodist minister, getting […]