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 brh@brh.org.uk.

Stuff linked to this project...

Articles

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

The Second World War in Europe is often presented as a war against fascism though this is conflated with a war against the nations of Germany and Italy and by default with Germans and Italians. The VE day celebrations today will be presented as those […] Read More =>

Publications

Lady Blackshirts Front Cover

Lady Blackshirts

During the 1930s a small group of ultra-nationalistic women, who considered themselves feminists, joined Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. Surprisingly some of these women were former high ranking members of the suffragette movement. Over 50 […] Read More =>
Bread Or Batons? Font Cover

Bread Or Batons?

The banking crisis of 2008 and the following deep recession experienced by the world economy have led to mass unemployment and poverty in the U.K. Massive public sector cuts along with huge financial bonuses for the wealthy have exacerbated the […] Read More =>

Event Series

South Bristol History Festival 2023

In collaboration with performers and historians from south of the river, Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) are putting on a series of events over the autumn of 2023 uncovering hidden histories of south Bristol. The Bedminster-Southville history […] Read More =>

Events

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

  Bristol Radical History Group presents an innovative exhibition of resistance to fascism in the city in the 1970s, through a collection of rare contemporary posters, badges, pamphlets, photographs and film. This visually powerful exhibition […] Read More =>

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

1st October to 17th November 2022: 1st Floor, Bristol Central Reference Library, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TL (now extended to 17th November). Launch event: 4.00pm, Monday 3rd October, Bristol Room, Bristol Central Reference Library Bristol […] Read More =>

Book Reviews

Hitler’s British Traitors

Regardless of the 2015 publishing date given, this book is currently (last checked December 2018) just available in hardback, and must have been withheld due to the ongoing release of new official documents, as these terminated only in 2017. […] Read More =>

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