John ‘O’ Reiley – ‘Man of Fire’.

Men of Fire Front Cover
For Christmas 2019 I bought my father a copy of BRHG’s pamphlet ‘Men of Fire -Work, Resistance and Organisation of Bristol Gasworkers in the Nineteenth Century'. Since his retirement he has been researching family history and I remembered that there was an ancestor who worked as a gas stoker in Bristol. We assumed Eastville as, in his youth, my father supported Bristol Rovers and we didn’t know there were two other coal gas production sites in Bristol. After both reading ‘Men of Fire’ we agreed […]

A ‘night of infamy’: Black Friday, 1892

History Walk

Bristol was rocked by two major strike waves in the late 19th Century, the first (1889-90) marked the emergence of ‘new unionism’ representing male and (significantly) female unskilled and semi-skilled labourers. Victory in these strikes improved pay and conditions for workers but led to an organised counter-offensive by employers in the autumn of 1892. The response of workers was a second strike wave which united miners, dockers and female confectionary workers, culminating in 'Black Friday' on […]

The Maltreated and the Malcontents on History Workshop blog

An article posted on History Workshop journal website by Mike Richardson on the Great Western Cotton factory in Barton Hill based upon his recent book The Maltreated and the Malcontents published by BRHG.

The Bristol Strike Wave of 1889-1890

Socialists, New Unionists and New Women - Part 2: Days of Doubt

Bristol Strike Wave Pt 1 Front Cover
Following on from part one, this pamphlet traces the period of industrial unrest in Bristol between January and August 1890. The lockout of boot and shoe workers that began in December 1889, and continued for the first few weeks of January 1890, provided the opportunity for combining the forces of skilled organised workers with the unskilled and unorganised, in the drive to improve working conditions. It also encouraged forms of social unionism, with links to the wider community. Employers […]

The Bristol Strike Wave of 1889-1890

Socialists, New Unionists and New Women - Part 1: Days of Hope

Bristol Strike Wave Pt 1 Front Cover
During 1889-1890, a strike wave swept across Britain hitting many major towns and cities. Bristol was not immune. The scale and intensity of industrial unrest in the city reached a level never experienced before. The city’s labour historian Samuel Bryher depicted Bristol at this time as ‘a seething centre of revolt’. This experience set in train a qualitative change in the organisation of workers; and salutary lessons emerged for consideration for those politically active in the newly formed […]