Bristol vs. Blackshirts

Bristol’s Anti-fascist memorial?:  A tram rail embedded in the grounds of St Mary Redcliffe church after it was blown over nearby houses by a Nazi bomb on 11th April 1941

During World War Two the Nazis dropped bombs on two of the battlegrounds of working-class Bristolian resistance to Oswald Mosley and his notorious fascist paramilitaries, the ‘Blackshirts’. From the Ropewalk to Melvin Square this project investigates the heroes and villains of inter-war class conflict and reveals the proud history of Bristolian anti-fascism from the very beginnings of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). This project aims to answer some important questions:

  • Why did significant parts of the police and the establishment support fascism in the 1930s when workers clearly recognised them as the enemy long before the outbreak of war?
  • Who were the leaders and members of the BUF in Bristol and what were their objectives?
  • How did the anti-fascists in Bristol organise, what were their tactics and how successful were they?

If you have any information, family history or sources that could help with this project then please contact BRHG at

Stuff linked to this project...


WWII: Upper class protected British fascist leader Mosley, whilst supposedly fighting fascism

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Lady Blackshirts Front Cover

Lady Blackshirts

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Bread Or Batons? Font Cover

Bread Or Batons?

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Event Series

South Bristol History Festival 2023

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Bristol Heroes – Volunteer Fighters in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39

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Bristolians vs Blackshirts: militant anti-fascism in the 1930s

During the 1930s in Bristol and nationally much of the working-class identified Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists (BUF) as a major threat to their freedom, their organisations and to ethnic and religious groups within their number. This […] Read More =>
Bristol Radical History Festival 2023 poster, featuring a Walter Crane print

Facing up to the Fascists: Confronting the National Front in Bristol in the 1970s

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The battle of Melvin Square – Knowle West and anti-fascism in the 1930s

7.00pm, Tuesday 29th November, Filwood Library, Filwood Broadway, Bristol BS4 1JN During the 1930’s militant antifascism against Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts was ingrained and established amongst the Bristolian working-class. Discontented by their […] Read More =>
transparent fiddle Exhibition: Facing up to the Fascists

Exhibition: Facing up to the Fascists

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Book Reviews

Hitler’s British Traitors

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