Trouble on the trams

In the summer of 1901 the Bristol Tramways Company sacked 90 employees who had recently joined the Gasworkers’ and General Labourers’ Union. Another 300 tramways employees went on strike in support of their dismissed fellow workers. This action by the Tramways Company was a direct challenge to the trade union movement in Bristol and beyond, and the wider labour movement rallied in support of the tramwaymen. The company threw all the resources they had into defeating the union and were ultimately […]

1873-2023: 150 years of struggle

  Engine Shed, Station Approach, Temple Meads, Bristol, BS1 6QH Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Bristol Trades Union Council, Bristol Radical History Group will be launching 150 Years of Struggle, the history of the Council at the Engine Shed, Temple Meads. In 1973, Bristol Trades Union Council marked its centenary year. David Large and Bob Whitfield wrote its history for the Bristol Historical Association (BHA) and BBC Bristol screened 100 Years of Struggle, a film produced by the […]

The radical face of Bedminster in the early 20th Century

Meet: 2.00pm Ropewalk pub - 5 Nelson Parade, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4JA Come with us on a journey through time and space in Bedminster, Victoria Park and Windmill Hill... This two hour history walk uncovers the radical political groups and individuals active in Bedminster in the pre-WWI and post-war periods, the strikes and trade union actions of the growing labour movement and how these networks of activists combined to resist the war. We also look at the changing nature of the area and the […]

Charles Fletcher: Gypsy, Orphan, Forest of Dean Miner and Socialist

In this article, the short life of Charles Fletcher is used as a lens to explore aspects of the labour movement in Chepstow and the Forest of Dean in the early twentieth century. It starts with Fletcher’s experiences as an orphan in Bristol and ends with his early death following his role as a witness in one of the most sensational murder trials of the 1920s.  

Swords into Ploughshares

Bristol Radical History Festival 2023 poster, featuring a Walter Crane print
Swords into Ploughshares (60min, 2018) is an edited version of The Plan, a documentary made by Steve Sprung. It tells the story of how and why Lucas Aerospace workers in the 1970s evolved a Corporate Plan to change their output from those that serviced the armaments industry to socially useful products like kidney machines, heat pumps and wind turbines. An excellent film exposing a hidden history of great relevance for today. A compliment to the talk by Andy Danford.

Trades Union Now

Bristol Radical History Festival 2023 poster, featuring a Walter Crane print
Sheila Caffrey will talk about some of the picket lines and broader campaigns seen in Bristol in the last couple of years, and some of the bigger protests and how these have also affected the mood e.g. Black Lives Matter and COP-26, and the role Trades Unions have (or could have!) played in these. Sheila Caffrey is an active trade unionist in Bristol. She first got involved with Bristol Trades Council 15 years ago, after becoming a teacher and a campaigner in the National Union of Teachers […]

Labour Revolt in Britain 1910-14

Bristol Radical History Festival 2023 poster, featuring a Walter Crane print
  The ‘Labour Revolt’ that swept Britain between 1910-14 was one of the most sustained, dramatic and violent explosions of industrial militancy and social conflict the country has ever experienced. It involved large-scale strikes by miners, seamen, dockers, railway workers and many others, and was dominated by unskilled and semi-skilled workers, many acting independently of trade-union officials. Amidst this powerful grassroots energy, the country saw widespread solidarity action, […]

Tremors of Discontent: A Life In Print

The Nissen Hut, Eastville Park, Bristol, BS5 6QL Author and historian Mike Richardson on his recently published book, “Tremors of Discontent: My Life in Print 1970-1988". Mike worked for DRG Flexible Packaging In Filwood Road between 1970-1986, and his talk covers his experiences as a shop steward at a time of much industrial unrest at the company. This talk organised by the The People's University of Fishponds. Booking details here.

‘Girls, Wives, Factory Lives’ – looking back to Churchmans after fifty years

I entered the shop floor of the small Bristol tobacco factory, Churchmans, in 1972. I wanted see, hear and smell the work and to talk to women manual workers about their work, their lives and their views. They were called ‘semi-skilled’ workers. What they did, weighing and cutting and rolling tobacco awed me with its speed and skill. Yet they could talk above the overwhelming rattle of machinery. Amazingly, I could interview them too. I had approached several larger factories in Bristol to do […]

Make Bosses Pay

Why we need Unions

Eve Livingston - Published by Pluto Press (2021) There isn’t a lot of history in Eve Livingston’s book – “The British labour movement: A potted history” pages 10-15 – but what there is is sharp and perceptive. “The days of unionised and secure jobs in manufacturing and industry, and a time when class was widely recognised as an organising principle for society, have long made way for precarious and exploitative work and an active attempt to obscure and the experience and effects of class […]

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