Bristol's role in the African slave trade of the eighteenth century is widely recognised. Less well known is how, in the previous century, the city's merchants met the demand for labour in Britain's new colonies with a supply of indentured white servants. Bristol's White Slave Trade reveals the extent of this form of slavery and the city's part in it.
In 1834 six Dorset farm labourers were tried and condemned to transportation to Australia for joining an early Trade Union. Since then the ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’ have become an iconic part of modern British History. Three years before the events in Tolpuddle much of rural England was rocked by a massive uprising of farm labourers known as the ‘Swing Riots’. This pamphlet analyses why ‘Tolpuddle’ has taken its place in the popular memory, and why the far more significant events of ‘Swing’ have been […]
"A barbarous and ungovernable people" is a bit of a strong condemnation of a community. Especially considering that at the time the community in question was situated on the outskirts of a vibrant city in Britain. The people of Kingswood Forest supplied the south west of England and the industries of Bristol with coal, and it is fair to say that without the Kingswood Forest coal Bristol would not be the city it is today. However, the relationship between the two communities was strained to say […]
This is a journey from pre-enclosure herbal brews made by ale-wives to the domination of hops and large breweries. But don't despair, this is a return trip thanks to the rediscovery of commoning and a recipe for nettle and juniper ale.
Four centuries ago a group of farmers from the West of England decided to see if they could make a living for themselves by growing tobacco. This put them at odds with the English state and its imperial ambition to build a mercantile economy driven by indentured and slave labour. This is their story of resistance. Fair-trade home-grown tobacco? Put that in yer pipe and smoke it
In 1909, Bristol Garden Suburb Limited was set up to implement the ideas Ebenezer Howard popularised in To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform. However, Bristol’s most authentic Arts and Crafts-style garden suburb, in Shirehampton, boasted only two streets when the outbreak of the First World War halted construction. In the inter-war years, garden-city principles inspired the building programme designed to deliver ‘homes fit for heroes’, with developments at Sea Mills and the Fry’s chocolate […]
America's entry into World War II immediately served to highlight the issue of race relations and the contradictions between America's declared position as a defender of "freedom" and "democracy," and what was actually practiced. Prior to the D-Day landings of June 1944, there were just under 1.6 million American forces personnel located in various parts of the U.K, with the largest numbers gathered in the southwest. The pubs in Bristol were segregated with some serving whites only, others, […]
Warren James was a man who was caught up in the social unrest that swept through the Forest of Dean in 1831, and who emerged as spokesman for the Foresters in their struggle to protect their ancient rights and way of life. The Forest Riots of 1831 were about insecurity, fear, poverty and starvation as a result of enclosures, enforced wage labour or unemployment. The Foresters fought to resist the twin onslaught from the Crown, who owned the Forest, and from businessmen who sought industrial […]
John Locke is the most famous philosopher born and raised in the vicinity of Bristol. He born in Wrington, Somerset about 12 miles from Bristol on August 29, 1632 and he was brought up in the market town of Pensford, about seven miles south of Bristol. Locke is also not only the main intellectual founder of liberalism, but also of neoliberalism, the “ruling idea” of the ruling class of today. George Caffentzis is associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine, […]
When Bristol Radical History Group staged a series of events called Down With The Fences! The Struggle For The Global Commons in May 2008, a group of leading academics found themselves together in an Eastville living room. They talked about what they would like to say to the leaders of the G8 countries who were soon to meet in Hokkaido, Japan. The result of their discussions, published under the name of the ‘Emergency Exit Collective’, is The Bristol Manifesto.