Coming soon: Bristol Radical History Festival

See here for full details of the event: Bristol Radical History Festival 2023

Saturday 22nd April, 2023

At M Shed, Bristol, BS1 4RN

Any movement which is ignorant of its own history is a prisoner of other people’s history. We can’t possibly win the future unless we keep our hands on our own past.

Gwyn Alf Williams

There are two main themes running through the festival:

Radical Bristol and the Visual Arts

This theme explores radical visual artists in Bristol over two centuries. Hazel Gower and Leigh Thomas will discuss Romantic-era painters Rolinda and Ellen Sharples, influential not just for their art, but as founders of Bristol’s Royal West of England Academy (RWA). We look forward to a rare “return” to the city by the charismatic nineteenth-century designer and political philosopher William Morris, who lectured at the Bristol Museum and Library in 1885. Moving forward with our time machine, Marie Mulvey-Roberts, co-curator of a highly successful exhibition on Angela Carter and visual art at the RWA will discuss the delights and challenges of curating works reflecting the visual imagination of one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. Members of the Monica Sjöö Curatorial Collective will discuss the relationship between the art and the radical activism of long-term Clifton resident, Monica Sjöö, while Stephen Lisney will consider the modernist work of the feminist-socialist painter, Doris Hatt.

Bristol Trade Union History: Then and Now

This theme will aim to provide a historical context for the recent burst of trade union activity in Bristol and throughout the U.K. Ralph Darlington, Mike Richardson and Bob Whitfield will focus on trade union disputes in the past and Sheila Caffrey, President of the Bristol Trades Union Council on its 150th aniversary, and Dave Chapple will be bringing the story up to date. Silu Pascoe will be speaking on the ‘Bristol Bus Boycott: Race, Unions and Civil Rights’ and Andy Danford will consider the campaign to convert from arms production to socially useful production in the Bristol aerospace industry in the 1970s and 1980s. To mark the anniversary of the Bristol Trades Council there will also be a screening of ‘100 Years of Struggle’, a film made by BBC Bristol to mark the Council’s centenary and introduced by Colin Thomas.

See the link at the top of this post for the full programme of talks.


  • Facing up to the Fascists: Confronting the National Front in Bristol in the 1970s
  • Bristol against apartheid
  • Visual mapping project – Women’s threads of Bristol
  • Subvertising in Bristol – The St. Just Mob


Bristol Radical History Group, Remembering the Real World War I Group, Anarchist Communist Group, Bristol AFfed, Bristol & Bath Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Bristol Solidarity Federation, Bristol Squatted, Bristol Trades Council, MayDay Rooms, Monica Sjöö Collective, Peoples’ Republic of Stokes Croft, Protect our NHS, Radical Poster Collective, SixPointsCardiff (publisher on Chartism), Tangent Books, Welsh Underground Network, Wessex Solidarity, West of England & South Wales Women’s Network, White Horse (Wiltshire) Trades Union Council.

Facebook: Bristol Radical History Festival event page here


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The last Bristol Radical History Festival we went to was way back in 2019 and it was an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable event. Judging by the line up above, the forthcoming festival is certainly something to look forward to. That’s not just for the talks, displays, walks and stalls… It’s also for the chance to catch up with people we’ve not seen for a few years now.

If anyone’s interested, we’ll have a fair number of the Grassroots Alternatives papers with us on the day. Any offers from people sympathetic to what we’re trying to do to take a small bundle of papers for distribution will be warmly welcomed:)

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