The Comrades over at Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) have announced the full lineup for their Radical History Zone (RHZ) at this years Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, and as ever it’s a right cracker of a selection!
The RHZ takes place at Hydra Bookshop, 34 Old Market, Bristol BS2 0EZ, which is just 5 minutes down the road from the main Anarchist Bookfair venue at the Trinity Centre, Trinity Rd, Bristol BS2 0NW. Hydra Bookshop will be open from 11am, selling books, coffee & cake all day, whilst BRHG’s book stall will be at the main Bookfair.
RHZ meetings start at 12noon. Each session, with a full description, is listed below. You can also find it on the BRHG website, on our Workshops page, in the Bookfair Programme on the day, or you can download it here RHZ2016_programme (pdf) and read it in bed/at work and share it with your friends!
Radical History Zone @ the 8th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair
30th April 2016 at Hydra Bookshop
Co-ordinated by Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG)
12-12.50 Mike Richardson (BRHG): Book Launch: The Maltreated and the Malcontents: Working in the Great Western Cotton Factory 1838-1914
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) untold.
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 and largely outside the formal trade union movement, the balance of power at the Great Western Cotton Works was skewed heavily in favour of the works’ managers. Nonetheless, Mike Richardson documents frequent acts of rebellion in which the women played a leading part; vocal protests, riotous resistance and thefts of inferior cotton to prevent loss of pay.
1-1.50 Roger Ball and Steve Mills (BRHG): James Acland and The Bristolian: Keeping it Spikey since 1827
The Bristolian local broadsheet is well known in this city for exposing corruption, lies and duplicity amongst Bristol’s ‘high and mighty’ of all shades of political persuasion. Less well known is that the paper was originally founded by James Acland, a radical agitator, who first wrote, financed and published a daily version in 1827. Its pages contained scathing attacks on the Corporation, Magistracy and wealthy Merchants who made up the oligarchy that controlled the city. Acland focussed on the sleaze, dishonesty and anti-democratic nature of the ruling class, when the first stages of enfranchisement were becoming a distinct possibility.
The Bristolian also agitated against slavery and supported varied popular causes, from the formation of pro-democracy political unions to the quality and prices of bread. Attempts to suppress The Bristolian – libel cases, prison and hard labour – failed to stop Acland, who had mass public support amongst the disenfranchised working class. From massive public meetings to standing for election, Acland continued to bait the rulers of Bristol for several years whilst being despised by the rival Tory and Whig press.
2-2.50 Dave Wise and Stuart Wise: Veteran Situationists behind King Mob and ‘Revolt Against Plenty’ in a panel discussion with members of the Bristol Radical History Group
Dave and Stuart Wise were the unrepentant core of 1960’s revolutionary group King Mob, part of the English section of the Situationist International (an ephemeral affiliation; the notoriously fractious SI expelled them). This will be a rare opportunity to hear them in conversation with members of the BRHG (and whoever wants to chip in!). In a kind of open-mic radical history session, we seek to revisit the (anti-)work of his majesty King Mob where it belongs; unmediated, unrecuperated and outside of the art galleries and academia. While many sixties radicals have long since found cosy niches in consumer society, Dave and Stuart continue to theorise the meaning of class struggle and social revolution through the website Revolt Against Plenty, providing a radical critique to ‘attack the very base of this outrageous society’.
3-3.50 Molly Conisbee (Bread, Print and Roses): Walk the Line: Re-imagining the way we travel after the Beeching Axe
Just over 50 years ago the first Beeching Report – The Re-shaping of the British Railways – changed the face of British transport forever. In this short talk we’ll discuss the world the railways built – through engineering, craftsmanship, aesthetics, and the democratizing of travel. This is not an uncritical look at the railway age. The cost of building the railways was large in terms of loss of life, corrupt business dealings, and the irreparable impact on communities, often moved against their will to make way for trains.
But the politically resonant point is that the railways represented an epic era of investment, of belief in infrastructure, in engineering and building, and the ability to make beautiful, lasting things of utility for all to use and enjoy. How can we think more imaginatively about our transport today, in ecological, social and thus political ways?
4-4.50 Eileen Turnball: The Real Conspiracy: The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign’s Fight for Justice
It is 44 years since the first-ever national building workers strike in Britain. Five months after the strike, 24 pickets were picked up and charged with over 200 offences, including unlawful assembly, intimidation and affray. Six were also charged with ‘conspiracy to intimidate’.
None of the pickets had been cautioned or arrested during the strike. There were no police complaints laid against the pickets at the time. At the first Shrewsbury trial, beginning in October 1973, three of the pickets were found guilty of conspiracy to intimidate, unlawful assembly and affray. They were sent to prison: Des Warren for three years, Ricky Tomlinson for two years and John McKinsie Jones for nine months.
Jailing these building workers remains one of the most notorious anti-trade union acts of the state in modern times. All the might of the police and criminal justice system were used against the pickets to deter trade unionists from organising effectively. The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign is seeking to overturn the convictions through the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The Campaign’s Secretary and Researcher, Eileen Turnbull, will speak about the trials and the research that has revealed the real conspiracy that took place in 1972-73 to put trade unionists in jail.
5-6.30 Ciaran Walsh: ‘The Red Dagger’: Wat Tyler, John Ball, Joanna Ferrour, the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt and the City of London’s weapons of mass destruction.
Live performance of poem by Heathcote Williams
The Red Dagger: the symbol of the City of London’s treachery and oppression, paraded about in plain sight for 700 years; but who noticed?
A live performance of Heathcote Williams’ epic poem depicting the origin of the infamous blade and detailing the depredations of the City of London over the last 650 years.