The Cry of the Poor

Being a Letter from Sixteen Working Men of Bristol to the Sixteen Aldermen of the City

Publication Details
Number: 55
By: Trish Mensah, Ian Wright, Barbara Segal
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 978-1-911522-61-4
Number of pages: 20
Format: Stapled
Page Details
Section: BRHG Publications
Subjects: Radical Bristol
Tags: , ,
Posted: Modified:

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“Being a Letter from Sixteen Working Men of various trades,
to the Sixteen Aldermen of Bristol.”

This impassioned and lucidly argued letter, written in 1871, set out demands for improvements to the quality of life for Bristol’s working people: clean air, parks, bathing places, libraries, a fish market and an end to bridge tolls. Over the subsequent 20 years most of these demands were met. However, 150 years on from that letter we find ourselves fighting to retain some of those historic gains, in opposition to Tory austerity and with a city council unable or unwilling to oppose it. This makes the re-publication of the letter particularly relevant today.

Read the Bristol Post article: How Bristol’s famous ‘Cry of the Poor’ still resonates 150 years on


Cry of the Poor front cover with a William Morris printCry of the Poor back cover


How delighted I was when I opened your envelope containing The Cry of the Poor. What an amazing pamphlet and oh so professionaly produced. It is quite magnificent in content, illustration and printing production. Loved it but how and why only three pounds?

A comment from a reader

I’ve just finished reading it [Cry of the Poor] and so many issues arose that I don’t propose raising them all in this email.  Except to say that after 150 years the up to 6 subsequent generations, including ours, should hold our heads in shame in that some of the points raised are still hardly any better.

We are STILL supplicants, asking, cap in hand, for the things to which we are 100% entitled, due to the fact that most of us produce, for the least possible reward, those things, both material and intellectual that contribute to making the World  “tick”.

Perhaps, had Thatcher never been heard of, we would not have had THATCHERISM over this last 42 years, make no mistake despite all other ‘isms we are still suffering from her ideas.  Don’t think of Blair /Brown partnership, they did nothing to ease the misery as neither will Starmer.  They are, after all, the modern version of the Liberal Party that existed when the book was first written.

They knew that cleaner air was needed so that our forefathers/mothers were fit enough to work for them and produce their disgusting wealth.  For the same reason they educated people so that they could do better jobs thereby swelling their coffers.

If it had not been for the Chartists demanding that MPs and Councillors be paid, we would be governed by only the very richest of us, those who didn’t have to work for a living. They were only meant to have an average worker’s wage, now they are FAT CATS using their positions to even further their filthy wealth. We elect them to represent US but they only represent themselves and their disgusting friends.

Comment from another reader (Claude)

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