As the ultra-right tries to spread its message of hate, Colin Thomas reminds us that we have been here before. This is how the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism resisted the National Front in Bristol in the 1970s and 80s – and won.
June Hannam’s pamphlet examines the life and work of Mabel Tothill (1869 – 1964), Quaker peace campaigner, socialist and Bristol’s first woman councillor. It reveals how this committed social activist was part of a complex network of individuals and organisations working to improve the lives of Bristol women and men. As a campaigner for women’s suffrage and a stalwart of the Independent Labour Party, Mabel saw the causes of women and labour as intertwined. Her interest in education and desire to […]
In Nautical Women, Rosemary Caldicott explores the stories of women whose lives were inextricably linked to the sea. She tells of the women of sailortowns struggling to keep out of the dreaded workhouse and resisting the prowling press gangs; and of the courageous and skilful cross-dressing women sailors who went to extraordinary lengths to hide their gender. We learn about these women’s motivation as well as their adventures and inevitable exposure. Rosemary Caldicott also considers the fate of […]
The emergence of ‘New Unionism’ in 1889, and the accompanying outburst of strikes across the country, was one of the most extraordinary and significant events in trade union history. Tens of thousands of ‘unskilled’ labourers, men and women, struck work, demanding an immediate improvement in their working conditions. In Bristol, gasworkers were at the helm of this revolt. Exasperated by the directors of the Bristol United Gas Light Company’s habitual disregard for their employees, early in […]
During World War One, 28 men from the Forest of Dean sought recognition as conscientious objectors rather than be called up to fight. This is the story of these men, the options available to them, the way they responded and what they did after the war. Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old explores the role that religion, class, culture and place had on these individual decisions. It argues that the actions of the conscientious objectors were an expression of a much wider anti-war sentiment, […]
Turbulence describes how the expanding armaments industry of the First World war drew thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled workers – women as well as men- into Bristol’s aircraft factories. Skilled men in the workforce resented their arrival. They also defended their own exemption from military conscription. Opposition to the dilution of skills through changes in the production process sometimes combined with traditional male hostility towards women at the work place. Nevertheless the […]
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 regional branches of the British Union of Fascists, with Women’s Sections, opened across the United Kingdom. The branches were established to promote and normalise the ultra-right and to position fascism as an acceptable political choice within […]
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was one of the most progressive thinkers, writers and activists of the late19th and early 20th century. He was an early supporter of the Bristol Socialist Society and paid regular visits to the city. Now remembered and celebrated mostly for his support for libertarian socialism and gay politics, he also took up ‘green’ causes. Carpenter’s campaigns for smoke abatement have rarely been revisited. His serialised essay on the subject, The Smoke-Dragon and How to Destroy […]
The history of Bristol’s Great Western Cotton Works in Barton Hill, which opened in 1838, is little known. The story of its workforce — mainly low-paid women and children — has never been told. From the 1830s to the early twentieth century, Barton Hill workers endured long working hours, high rates of industrial accidents and ill-health from the cotton dust and humidity. Moreover, they were subjected to wage cuts and fines by a series of unrelenting managers. Divided along age and gender lines […]
Walter Ayles was a fighter – but a fighter who didn’t believe in killing. He fought against unemployment and ruthless employers but also against the pro-war fever that led to the First World War. A Bristol councillor before the War, he was sent to prison for his opposition to it. Soon after his release, he was elected the MP for Bristol North. This pamphlet outlines the life and times of a man who fought for socialism and peace.