Filed under famines

Paupers Riot 1830

Paupers Riot 1830

Here’s another horror story from Bristol’s past which serves as a warning of where we may be heading. The 1840s was a time of massive social upheaval across Europe, echoing the previous century’s ‘hungry forties’, but the problems were soaring in the 1830s. In Bristol, trade declines, so many workers were reduced to pauperism and … Continue reading


Women’s Work- 19th Century Britain

Women’s Work- 19th Century Britain

I recently found this wonderful book by Rohana Darlington, Irish Knitting. She graduated from the Central School of Art and Design and in 1984 she received a travelling fellowship to study hand knitting in Norway and Ireland; from the latter came this book, a mix of Irish history focusing on fine art and textiles, but … Continue reading

Mao the Mass Murderer

Mao Tse Tung was once seen as the hero of the left in the West;  his Red Book was recently waved by an MP in Britain’s House of Commons.  But Chinese archives are now being opened, and Frank Dikoetter in the current History Today explains the great man now appears one of the great criminals. … Continue reading

Railway Navvies’ Women

This is again from the fine book Railway Navvies by Peter Coleman:     It is surprising that, amidst this squalour, and against all odds, there were respectable women, if unconventional in their habits: “kind neighbours, good nurses, who cooked well and sent well-ordered children off to the mission schools, where there were any, women … Continue reading

Regional Differences

One of the recurring themes of Barbara A Hanawalt’s book, The Wealth of Wives, was the unusual status of women in early Medieaval London, and some other towns and cities of England and the Low Countries. I am intrigued as to why, when so many countries concentrated their wealth on the male lines, with many … Continue reading

All My Kindle Books

Here is a list of all my books all in one place. Some of them have been published in paperback, though may be under different titles. They are all on Amazon, and they are all unlike anything you will find anywhere. The Big World of Mr Bridges’ Microcosm: A Man, A clock, A world that … Continue reading

War and Business

I specialise in 18th century English history, and the tides of war played a large role at this time. Bristol did very well whenever war broke out – locals produced shoes and clothes for the soldiers, guns and ammunition, ships and fittings and food for the crews and combatants. But after the war came depression. … Continue reading

Hungry Forties

In a recent radio interview, the eminent and very rock’n’roll physicist, Professor Brian Cox claimed ‘All dates are arbitrary, which is particularly important if you are mad.’ He was talking about the recent end of the world dates thingy, and of course being an eminent scientist he is absolutely right. But there is something very … Continue reading

The Clubmen

In the midst of chaos, it is rare to find people who rise up and try to sort out the situation. In late 12th century Italy, a series of pilgrimages began from various points, at different times, of white garbed penitents pleading for peace amongst the banditry and violence. They were called The Bianchi. The … Continue reading

Was the Prize Worth the Pain?

Most accounts of England’s Civil War – or any civil war, for that matter, come from the combatants. The real victims – the ordinary people who have strangers marauding through their villages, committing atrocities – are largely invisible. But this is again from Adam Nicholson’s ‘Arcadia: “The men and women of the county found themselves … Continue reading