Bristol Radical History Festival

Saturday, 14 May

Bristol Radical History Festival

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Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) have organised a full programme of events for our 2022 Radical History Festival, in collaboration with our hosts at M Shed. We have a great line up of speakers including:

This is a free event, and all are welcome!


The 2022 Festival has two main themes, where once again we will reveal hidden histories, debate and agitate for a future of better pasts:

  • State and private surveillance of labour and social movements (1792 to now)Studio 2 on Level 1
  • Hidden histories of post-war Britain (1945-51) – Studio 1 on Level 1

State and private surveillance of labour and social movements (1792 to now)

When environmental campaigners exposed Mark Kennedy as an undercover police officer (or spycop) in October 2010, after a seven-year posting, outrage ensued over the fact he had coerced a number of female activists into relationships, and taken part in criminal actions.

Numerous other spycops were (and are being) exposed after this, forcing the Government to set up the Undercover Policing Inquiry into the activities of its undercover operations through the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) since 1968. The cover-up, and whitewash, was underway, utilising multiple arms of the British state. But as we will show in this theme, surveillance activities by both the British state and private/corporate entities have been ongoing for centuries, often working together, hand in glove.

From fears in the aftermath of the French revolution in the 1790s, republicanism and the struggles for democracy to resistance to World War One and the rise of anti-racist and Black Power groups in the 1960s, the British state through spying has attempted to neutralise, suppress and stymie progressive labour and social movements. And they didn’t stop yesterday…hello Special Branch!

For a brief overview of this theme, check out BRHG’s pamphlet ‘State Snooping – Spooks, Cops & Double-Agents’ by Colin Thomas, published February 2021.

Hidden histories of post-war Britain (1945-51)

Post World War Two we find a Britain with its treasuries exhausted after paying for the war; a diminishing world power supported by colonies it could no longer afford to maintain, nor contain. However, its citizens were determined not to be short-changed again, as they were after World War One.

We will share hidden histories of successful popular campaigns and direct action in Britain, for housing, social reforms, civil and labour rights. From mass squatting of defunct army bases and the refusal of wartime ID cards to the struggle against the death penalty and international labour solidarity, these struggles were led from below rather than merely being the actions of a reforming Labour government.

These movements in Britain were concurrent with struggles for independence in the colonies. We will explore whether this progressive wave on the mainland was reflected in how the British state approached the struggles for colonial liberation.

It’s Not All Talks

So, you’ll know it’s not just going to be talks, discussions and workshops!

Once again we will have:

  • history walks
  • films
  • singing
  • exhibition
  • stalls with books and merchandise from local and national groups

Not to be missed – visit the Level 2 foyer to see the Feminist Archive South’s Politics and Protest: Posters from the Women’s Liberation Movement exhibition.

Date & Time: 

Saturday, 14 May, 2022 - 10:00 to 16:30

Is this a callout or mobilisation?: 

  • international callout


  • book shop/info shop/library
  • course/workshop
  • discussion/presentation
  • exhibition
  • film
  • guided tour
  • meeting
  • music/concert


  • Bookfair
Princes Warf, Wapping Road
United Kingdom

Since 2006 BRHG have organised over 250 events; staging walks, talks, gigs, historical recreations, films, exhibitions, trips through the archives and fireside story telling. We have several active research projects, publish a range of books and pamphlets and host an archive on this website.


  • book shop/info shop/library / course/workshop / discussion/presentation