Bristol: Timeline – journey to environmental justice and the end of conflict

1887

The Bristol and District Footpath Preservation Society was formed. If they did not succeed in court, members often took direct action to assert public rights of way.

1890s

W. J. Petherick started the Bristol Socialist Rambling and Propaganda Society which encouraged Bristolians to enjoy recreation in the countryside and spread socialist ideas in rural areas.

1909

The Bristol Garden Suburb Limited was set up to make urban areas greener. These ideas influenced developments in Shirehampton, Sea Mills, Keynsham, Knowle West, Bedminster, Hillfields, Southmead, Horfield, Speedwell and St Anne’s.

1914

On the eve of the First World War, a mass meeting of Bristol Dockworkers at The Grove voted for neutrality in the conflict. The following day, railway workers followed suit.

1916

A Trades Union Congress meeting at the Victoria Rooms voted against conscription. Members of the No Conscription Fellowship were arrested for distributing anti-conscription leaflets. A prominent anti-conscriptionist, Walter Ayles, was subsequently sent to prison for desertion.

graphic design artwork
Design commemorating Walter Ayles
Photo credit: Stokes Croft China/ Marcus Bo Lanyon 2017

1919

Bristol Dockworkers condemned the government’s actions in the blockade of Soviet Russia, calling it a ‘barbarous crime’ and demanding ‘the repeal of the Conscription Acts, and the complete restoration of the people’s rights.’

1919

As part of the ‘soldiers’ revolt’, servicemen based in Ashton Gate and RAF men based in Yate left their posts and marched into Bristol demanding to be demobilised. Men from the Somerset and Gloucestershire regiments followed suit in Belfast and Maidstone.

1919

On his release from prison for refusing to fight, the conscientious objector Walter Ayles was re-elected councillor for Easton and later became MP for Bristol North.

1920

Bristol Dockworkers boycotted three ships used for transporting arms and supplies to British forces in Ireland whose role was to suppress Irish nationalists.

1960

The Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War focused on Bristol to highlight the role of the city’s aircraft factories in the arms trade. Campaigners picketed factory gates and linked up with industrial workers to seek civilian alternatives to the war machine.

1976

Local residents raised funds to turn derelict land, planned as a lorry park, into the West Country’s first city farm at Windmill Hill. It became a space to promote organic growing, horticultural therapy and community arts. Similar projects in St Werburghs, Hartcliffe and Lawrence Weston soon followed.

1980

Bristol Anti-Nuclear Group successfully blockaded a train carrying waste through residential areas.

1991

The start of a five-year successful battle to save Royate Hill in Eastville from development, leading to the creation of Royate Hill Nature Reserve. A year later, residents occupied trees in a bid to prevent the construction of a supermarket on green space at Golden Hill, Horfield.

1995-2000

Bristol and Bath Reclaim the Streets staged several mass street parties to draw attention to the consequences of traffic congestion and the environmental unsustainability of global capitalism.

1999

Stop the Avon Ring Road took direct action against the construction of a controversial road scheme at Siston Common.

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