Mike Baker – an Easton legend

It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Mike Baker on 12th March 2020 at the BRI. I first met Mike Baker around twenty years ago when he was leading a local history walk around Easton with fellow historian Jim McNeil. Mike and Jim were leading members of the excellent local history group Living Easton and they had been asked to host a group of young German trade unionists who were visiting the Easton Cowboys and Girls Sports Club. Afterwards in The Plough, the Cowboys HQ, Mike […]

Update – Brecon plaque commemorates slave trader

Should society memorialise a slave trader?

In the Welsh town of Brecon, upon an old wall, along Captains Walk (a name based on a fiction), is a slate plaque commemorating the life of a slave trader who resided in the town. The plaque was commissioned by Brecon Town Councillors in 2009, erected in October 2010 (during Black History Month), and makes no reference to the fact that Captain Phillips was a 17th century slaver. Captain Thomas Phillips was the commander of the infamous slave ship the Hannibal in the 1690s. He was directly […]

The ‘Emergency’ in Malaya (1948- 60) and the Batang Kali Massacre [Postponed until further notice]

At the end of World War II, an almost bankrupt Britain was determined to reinstate the old areas of European power in the ‘Far East’ and held Vietnam and Indonesia until France and Holland could regain control. Shortly after, as Labour was building the ‘Welfare State’ at home, in Malaya, which had extensive tin mines and was producing over a third of the world’s natural rubber, our soldiers were fighting a counter-insurgency campaign to secure the country for British interests. In this […]

Blacklisting and corporate surveillance [Postponed until further notice]

"As old as the pyramids" - is blacklisting still with us? Phil Chamberlain A former member of the Economic League told MPs that blacklisting was as "old as the pyramids". That organisation was shut down in the mid 1990s and its successor, The Consulting Association, in 2009. Where might we see their handiwork today? Journalist and co-author of Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists Phil Chamberlain will use a contemporary case study to explore how corporate […]

State Surveillance after the French Revolution [Postponed until further notice]

Government Surveillance in Peacetime: Home Office Spies, c.1800 (David Worrall) Government surveillance, using networks of spies and informers, were active both before and after the Napoleonic War (1793-1815). In the case of the Anabaptist, William Winterbotham, although in 1792 the country was still at peace, a spy was in place to intercept him on a West Country highway and lure him into seditious conversation. In the late 1810s and 1820s, when Britain was engaged in no major conflict, spies […]

‘Secret and delicate sources’: UK Black Power and undercover policing [Postponed until further notice]

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 individual, institutional and state racism experienced by the postwar generation of black immigrants to Britain. The British state took the threat of Black Power very seriously, both at home and across the Commonwealth. When an international conference on Black Power took place in British […]

‘Malevolence Imposes Vigilance’: State and Corporate Surveillance (1911-1921) [Postponed until further notice]

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 public debate. To industrial workers these philosophies offered new ways of understanding industrial work, of organising protest, and of reorganising democracy. But to employers they threatened the smooth operation of industrial production and the free use of capital, while for the government they […]

Bedminster Union Workhouse

The Life and Death of Hannah Wiltshire

Clevedon Library, 37, Old Church Rd, Clevedon BS21 6NN Author Rosemary Caldicott focuses on the draconian workhouse system that housed the vulnerable poor, and in particular women and children. Rosemary will be examining the history of the workhouse by offering an illustrated talk based on evidence extracted from reports published at the time about the violent death of Hannah Wiltshire who resided in Weston in Gordano. The involvement of Sir Arthur Elton of Clevedon Hall is pivotal to this true […]

John ‘O’ Reiley – ‘Man of Fire’.

Men of Fire Front Cover
For Christmas 2019 I bought my father a copy of BRHG’s pamphlet ‘Men of Fire -Work, Resistance and Organisation of Bristol Gasworkers in the Nineteenth Century'. Since his retirement he has been researching family history and I remembered that there was an ancestor who worked as a gas stoker in Bristol. We assumed Eastville as, in his youth, my father supported Bristol Rovers and we didn’t know there were two other coal gas production sites in Bristol. After both reading ‘Men of Fire’ we agreed […]

The Postwar Financial and Political Settlement (1944-1953) [Postponed until further notice]

From Breton Woods to UK debt, austerity and nationalization

Bristol Radical History Group's Alan Brown will discuss the end of the British Empire to Pax Americana and the cold war, hidden histories 1944-1953.