Publications: Bristol Radical Pamphleteer

Publications from the Bristol Radical History Group, formed in 2006, continue the [Bristol Broadsides] tradition. Although the group’s roots are exhilaratingly radical, veering on the anarchic, their publications are scrupulously researched and well-worth reading. Mike Manson, Bristol Civic Society, 2021.

We now have a range of four types of publications: Books, Reprints, Activist Memories oral history and the Bristol Radical Pamphleteer series.

Also, checkout the publications from our friends:

  • Breviary Stuff PublicationsAn independent publisher of radical history, working class history and history from below. For almost 10 years they have reproduced out-of-print classics along with new titles for affordable prices, unlike the majority of academic publishers.
  • Six PointsOur friends across the water, the Newport Chartist historians have recently founded a publishing house ‘Six Points’, which aims to produce and promote high quality books that explore nineteenth century Radicalism, the ideas of Chartism and their historical antecedents, the movement’s context and development into modern times. A recent work is Peter Strong’s The Bristol Connection, the neglected story of the political, cultural and commercial links across the Bristol Channel between the city of Bristol and Newport and other parts of south east Wales in the 19th century.

Deference and Dissent

Labour relations in a family firm

J. W. Arrowsmith Ltd, 1855–1927 Deference and Dissent provides a window into the working lives of compositors, letterpress machinists, and bookbinders and their relationships with their employer. It looks at their collective voice, disputes, strikes, workplace culture, mechanisation of typesetting, as well as the impact of other significant factors such as the First World War and the economic slump in the early 1920s. Mike Richardson’s work contributes to understanding the complexity of the […]

‘No Cure, no Pay, Boarding excepted’

‘Mason’s Madhouses’ in old Fishponds

Front cover shownig a head with a plan of the mad house projected onto it.
Long before the NHS, those who did not fit ‘the norm’ were consigned to workhouses or to private lunatic asylums. The latter provided a profitable business opportunity, as the wealthy were only too keen to offload family members whose behaviour was inconvenient. It was a system open to abuses that Daniel Defoe and others were keen to expose. In the Fishponds area of Bristol, one family lived off the proceeds for more than a century. The revealing tale of ‘Mason’s Madhouses’ explains what life […]

150 Years of Struggle

A history of the Bristol Trades Union Council

History of Bristol Trades Council front cover showing trade union banner
1873-2023 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. […]

Conflict and Struggle in the Arms Industry

A Memoir of a Bristol Trade Union Activist

In this important memoir, Andy Danford brings to life his experience as a worker and senior union representative in Bristol’s arms industry during the 1970s and 80s. During these two decades life on the shop and office floors, and the strength of workplace trade unionism, shifted dramatically, as the advent of Thatcherism marked the beginning of the sustained attack on worker and union rights which extends to this day. Against this background of change, this memoir provides a rich account of the […]

Indoctrinating for Empire

Children’s books and changing times

The story of how we came to have this Empire is a wonderful tale of adventure and romance Major General Baden-Powell in Scouting for Boys Many children’s ‘classics’, some still in print, glorify the British Empire. In this essay, Colin Thomas argues that they help to perpetuate racist attitudes which only recent children’s books have begun to challenge.

The Cry of the Poor

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

Cry of the Poor front cover with a William Morris print
"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 […]

Hilda Cashmore

Pioneering community worker and founder of Bristol’s Barton Hill Settlement

Hilda Cashmore front cover depicting the cottages that became Barton Hill Settlement.
Hilda Cashmore (1876-1943), her life and community work in Bristol and beyond. Over 100 years since its foundation, Bristol’s Barton Hill Settlement is still operating as an important community hub in the city. This book tells the story of its first warden, Hilda Cashmore, her campaign to establish the Settlement, and her approach to social work as exemplified by its activities in its early days. But Cashmore’s commitment to providing social care went far beyond Bristol. The book covers her […]

Tremors of Discontent

My Life in Print 1970-1988

Tremors of Discontent Front cover showing Mike Richardson speaking into a microphone
While there are many academic studies of workers’ resistance and consciousness during the 1970s and 1980s, few accounts relate the personal-political experiences of the activists involved. Tremors of Discontent, however, explores how Mike Richardson’s individual consciousness came to change during that period. It shows how gradually his participation in trade union and left politics broke through his boyhood reserve, intensified by the external political, economic and social circumstances. By […]

De-Convicted

The convicts who got a second chance

De-Convicted cover - man's hands holding prison cell bars and a pencil
This pamphlet analyses British penology by focussing on three case studies, spread across two centuries, all with Bristol connections. Francis Greenway, originally sentenced to death for forgery in Bristol, was transported to Australia where he became the colony’s leading architect; Douglas Curtis, who moved on from Cotham Grammar School to specialising in the theft of luxury yachts, eventually graduated from Cambridge University but didn’t forget the interests of those who were once his fellow […]

State Snooping

Spooks, Cops and Double Agents

State Snooping front Covers. I man's face split in two, ha;f copper, half crusty activist.
In the 1550s Elizabeth I claimed that she had “no desire to open windows into men’s souls” while seeking to do just that. This pamphlet traces a near 500 year history of British governments snooping into the lives of its citizens. From the anti-Catholic paranoia of the sixteenth century to the effect of the radical ideas underlying the French Revolution of the eighteenth, the state increasingly expanded its surveillance activities. Industrialisation in the nineteenth century gave birth to mass […]

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