By M Shed volunteers and walk guides Steve Spear and Richard Stableford
The story of the 1831 riots walk has something for everyone: attempted murder, gaol breaking, arson, looting, mass drunkenness, street fighting and sabre charges. Total anarchy!
When you start doing the research and understanding the causes of the unrest, it gets even more interesting.
It’s often the case that the initial spark of a riot can unleash actions arising from a wider agenda and that was certainly the case during the fateful weekend of the 29 October 1831.
The public outcry for parliamentary reform may have been the spark, but the contempt for the Bristol Corporation held by a jaded and disenfranchised populace led to full-scale insurrection.
On the walk we explain the social and political backdrop leading up to the riots and also the main characters involved, especially those in authority.
We hope that by bringing those people to life we can help to understand why certain decisions were made that ultimately led to catastrophe.
Attempting to combine a physical route within an historic timeline matching the events that took place is no easy task, but all the more enjoyable when everything comes together.
Hopefully this walk will enable more people to learn about a critical piece of Bristol’s history that has either been misunderstood or long forgotten.
Was all the death and destruction worth it? Join us to find out.
M Shed’s historical walks are led by volunteer guides with a wealth of knowledge and an infectious passion for their subject. All the walks at M Shed are free, donations are gratefully received, and bookings can be made on the day at reception.
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All images © Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives unless otherwise stated.