150 Years of Struggle

A history of the Bristol Trades Union Council

Publication Details
Number: 58
By: Colin Thomas, David Large, Rob Whitfield
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 978-1-911522-69-0
Number of pages: 79
Format: Bound Booklet
Page Details
Section: BRHG Publications
Subjects: Radical Bristol, Workers Organisations & Strikes
Tags: , ,
Posted: Modified:

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In 1973, Bristol Trades Union Council marked its centenary year. Bob Whitfield and the late David Large wrote its history for the Bristol Historical Association and BBC Bristol screened 100 Years of Struggle, a film produced by the Council and directed by Colin Thomas.

Now, in 2023, to celebrate the Trades Council’s 150th anniversary, Colin has brought the story up-to-date. This booklet incorporates the BHA pamphlet, extracts from the BBC film and an update on the last fifty years.

History of Bristol Trades Council front cover showing trade union bannerHistory of Bristol Trades Council back cover with blurb


A compelling, well-researched and produced account of the many struggles faced by trade unionists in Bristol during the past 150 years. It tells the moving story of the many individuals and vital campaigns that BTUC has championed to defend workers’ rights. It reinforces the case, particularly today, for trades councils and the vital work that they do in bringing working people together, regardless of trade or workplace. Unity is strength.

Eileen Turnbull, Shrewsbury 24 Campaign Researcher

This booklet tells the fascinating history of an organisation rooted in its local community and engaged in every significant local and national working-class struggle over a century and a half. What shines through is the rugged determination of Bristol’s trade unionists over generations to transform the lives of working people. The trade union activists mobilising under the banner of the Bristol Trades Council would never have thought themselves heroes and heroines but their story tells us that they certainly were.

John McDonnell MP

This short, but ambitious, booklet provides a valuable record of the victories and defeats of Bristol’s trade union movement organising under the umbrella of the Bristol Trades Union Council. Brought up to date to celebrate the 150-year history of the Council, the booklet covers a broad sweep of history. On reading, we can’t but help be impressed by the courage and resilience of Bristol’s working class and its extraordinary leaders.

Manoj Dias-Abey, Senior Lecturer in Law at Bristol University

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