The Radical History School 

The Radical History School is an important part of our work. Open to all, it is a great chance to learn more about radical and trade union history.

All sessions will be run on Zoom as well as live-streamed on either our Facebook page or Youtube channel. Sign up to the next monthly installment below or catch up on the ones you missed. 


Coming up...

GCHQ and union rights


Tuesday 5 October 2021 
7.00 - 8.00pm

The fight for union rights at GCHQ

Hear from those involved in the long campaign to restore union rights and reinstate the sacked workers at GCHQ.

A 'reunion' type discussion live-streamed from Cheltenham. Hosted by Hannah David, South West TUC chair and PCS National Executive member the conversation will include former sacked trade unionists: Mike Grindley and Brian Johnson; union leaders at the time John Sheldon and Hugh Lanning; Quin Tallon from Cheltenham Trades Council and Kate Haigh former NUCPS branch secretary at the MoD Gloucester branch.

Register here


Black G.I.s in West country
Monday 8 November 2021
7.00pm - 8.00pm

Black GIs in the West Country

This fascinating evening brings two stories of how America's racial relations and civil rights movement came to the West Country during the Second World War.
To begin, Kate Werran will talk about the dramatic ‘wild west’ shoot out that took place in Launceston, Cornwall between black American GIs and military police.

Followed by Professor Mary Louise Roberts, University of Wisconsin, USA who will share the incredible story of Leroy Henry, an African-American soldier who was saved from a hanging in Shepton Mallett.

Register here


The Martyrs in Canada

Tuesday 7 December 2021
7.00 - 8.00pm

The Tolpuddle Martyrs: settlers in Canada 

Geoffrey Anderson joins us from Canada to talk about the lives of the families of the Martyrs after they crossed the Atlantic 

Register here


Catch up on the ones you missed 

walter citrine

A Champion of dignity at work: the TUC in the Citrine era 

The Institute of Historical Research takes a look-back at the TUC and union history of championing dignity at work. Viewed through the lens of an illustrious union leader - Walter (Lord) Citrine, general secretary of the TUC 1926-1946 - and his new biography, Forgotten Statesman, by Dr Jim Moher, a former union official. Citrine's early career as Merseyside District Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, as ETU national officer in Manchester and at the TUC during the General Strike, will be explored. Also, we see how as president of the International Federation of Trade Unions during the 1930s and 1940s, he helped shape the TUC and unions' major contributions at home and abroad (USA and Russia). 

Watch again


Tolpuddle museum and cottages 
Exploring the Tolpuddle Museum and Cottages
Tom de Wit,
manager of the museum and cottages at Tolpuddle, takes us on an entertaining tour of the grounds.
Watch again here

The story of Jack Leslie 
The story of Jack Leslie
As a great football player for Plymouth Argyle, Jack Leslie was soon picked to play for England. But soon his name disappear from the players list, because of the colour of his skin. Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith from the Jack Leslie Campaign and Jason Lee, Equalities Education Executive, from the Professional Footballers Association join the Radical History School to talk Jack Leslie and racism in football, then and now.
Watch again here


Gods Beautiful Sunshine 
God's Beautiful Sunshine: the 1921 miners' lockout in the Forest of Dean
Ian Wright
talks about his book that tells the story from 100 years ago when 6,000 miners endured a lockout after resisting deep wage cuts.
Watch again here

Ben Fletcher - the life and times of a Black wobbly

Ben Fletcher - the life and times of a Black wobbly
We are pleased to be joined by Professor of History, Peter Cole PHD, from Western Illinois University who will tell the story of Ben Fletcher. One of the most important African American trade unionists, he is the revolutionary you need to know about.
Watch again here


The six men of Dorset 
Six Men of Dorset: the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the making of a legacy

Professor Clare Griffith
s has tracked the way the Tolpuddle Story has been told and gives her views.
They didn't die for their cause; they didn't organise a strike; many others had been transported; imprisoned and even killed for taking on the bosses.
So why did the TUC choose to remember the Story of six farm workers from Tolpuddle?
Watch again here

Atlantic Slavery and its legacy 
Atlantic slavery and its legacy

Madge Dresser
has long been involved in researching, teaching and broadcasting about the history of Atlantic slavery, immigration, ethnic relations, women and the labour movement.
In this lecture, Madge looks at some of the lesser-known legacies of Atlantic slavery and how it relates to white working class Britain.
Watch again here


The 1921 Poplar Rates Strike

The 1921 Poplar Rates Strike

Janine Booth tells the story of a working-class borough’s fightback against austerity and thirty councillors who went to prison for refusing to levy rates that their citizens could not afford to pay. Celebrate the centenary of an inspiring struggle which holds lessons for today.

Watch again here

Radical libraries and archives reimagined 
Radical libraries and archives - reimagined

The COVID crisis has led radical libraries and archivists to explore new ways to help people access resources and tell the stories of our social history. In this lecture, we bring together some of the key libraries in the country on radical history to explain and discuss their work.
Watch again here
With :
> Jeff Howarth, TUC Library 
> Lynette Cawthra, Working Class Movement Library
> Meirian Jump, Marx Memorial Library 


Ernest Bevin: Labour's Churchill 
Ernest Bevin: Labour’s Churchill

In conversation with Lord Andrew Adonis on his latest book about the trade union and Labour giant Ernie Bevin, with the TUC's General Secretary Frances O'Grady.
Watch again here 

The Sylvia Pankhurst Handbook

The Sylvia Pankhurst Activist Handbook

With writer, historian and biographer Dr Rachel Holmes on Sylvia Pankhurst's methods for organising and campaigning.
Watch again here


Whose heritage is it anyway?: commemorating radical movements 

Steve Poole's talk looks at the way in which radical political movements in Britain, from corresponding societies of the 1790s to the Chartists in the 1840s have commemorated the struggle to create a democratic commonwealth.
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Workplace surveillance_then and now

Workplace surveillance - then and now 

Since workers began to organise, employers have spied on them. This talk from Steven Parfitt will look at how American employers used detectives and agents to disrupt unions between 1860 and 1920.
Watch again


Exploring criminal lives: online resources for history from below

In this webinar, Dr Rose Wallis, a senior lecturer in British Social History considers how we can use the records of government and criminal justice to explore the lived experience of ordinary men and women in the past. And while we're unable to access archives, what online resources are available to us. 
Watch again 

Putting the 'radical' in history: Jules Michelet

Dr John Callow
, a senior research fellow at the University of Suffolk has written widely on popular cultures and the history of the Labour movement. Here, he considers Jules Michelet's roles in radicalising history.
Watch again 


The Great Chartist Meeting with David Steele

The Great Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common
with David Steele.

1848 was the ‘Year of Revolution’ across Europe with monarchies falling like dominoes. In Britain, the Chartist movement underwent a resurgence with a planned mass meeting on Kennington Common. This was met with an overwhelming show of military force resulting in the apparent waning of the reform movement. In this talk, David explores the build-up and events of April 10th 1848 and argues this event should not be denigrated as a failure. 
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The movers and shakers of history

Movers and shakers: who moves history?

Professor Chris Read joins the History School to explore who really shapes our history, from modern characters to historical figures. 


Towards inclusive radical history

Joanna de Groot explores race, gender and global power in the context of resistance to political and economic exploitation in our history.
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Colonial history education - the Mayflower 400 commemorations

Angela Sherlock and Danny Reilly look at the establishment of the interlinked New England and Caribbean British colonies, and the historical contexts of land seizure and indigenous population decline, and the creation of a "Mayflower story". Danny Reilly is the co-author of "Telling the Mayflower Story: Thanksgiving or Land Grabbing, Massacres & Slavery."  
Watch again 


Tolpuddle Stories

Hidden stories of the Tolpuddle Martyrs

Les Kennedy invites Nigel Costley, TUC South West Regional Secretary and Tom de Wit, Tolpuddle Museum Manager to talk about aspects of the Tolpuddle Martyrs' story that are less well known and understood.
Watch again here.

Transforming the Festival

Transforming the festival

Tolpuddle organisers, Nigel Costley and Dick Muskett reflect back on the way the Festival has evolved and changed over the years since it's first inception. From car parks to generators and barn-dances, we delve into the stories that helped make the festival what it is today. 
Watch again here.