History Workshop Journal

This is the official Facebook group for History Workshop Journal and History Workshop Online.

Both the journal and the website emerge from the History Workshop movement. Founded in Britain in the late sixties by the historian Raphael Samuel, the movement advocated “history from below”: history envisioned from the perspective of ordinary people rather than elites…

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Brooklyn and the Slad Brook Conjoined

Brooklyn and the Slad Brook Conjoined Historically and Inter-Textually

I remember so well that day at Wallbridge in Stroud,
Seeing the man whose name I do not know,
Yet with whom I always share the time of day
Whenever our paths cross in the street;
He was leaning on the canal bridge,
Gazing out over the waters,
Beyond the information board
Which portrays Stroud Scarlet,
Stretched out on tenterhooks
In Rodborough Fields;
He was staring at the Cainscross Road,
Where the Slad Brook enters the canal –
In a reverie about the old brewery, I thought –
‘Remembering the smell of the beer?’ I asked;
‘No, I’m just thinking about all of these cars,
Where they all comin’ from, and where they all goin’ to?’

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Stroud Library: Use it or Lose it – Ex Libris Ad Amazonia

It’s odd to think that the Chartist mass meeting up on Selsley Hill
Contributed to the formation and spread of public libraries.
But it’s true, after a fashion.

The Chartist decade of 1838 to 1848,
The ruling class fear of revolution,
The threat to private property and profit,
The association of freethinking with ‘intemperance’,
All helped lead to the 1850 Public Library Act,
The cult of municipal museums too,
And the Victorian emphasis on private study,
Within a public or familial space:
The familiar trope of the Victorian working class male autodidact.

‘We must educate our masters’,
Said Home Secretary, Robert Lowe,
After the urban working class gained the vote in 1867,
But self-help, the 3 R’s, libraries, museums and schools
Didn’t necessarily mean universal conformist thinking:
Fiction fostered the imagination, and non-fiction the frown:
Reading could lead to questioning, and such questioning,
Coupled with the study of a book’s bibliography
Could lead to the polite request that the local library
Might order a required book –
Not on the shelves –
Either as new stock,
Or from another library,
Out of town or county:
This was a public, national service,
Not just a municipal one.

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Laceys of Wotton-under-Edge and Chartism

This posting, about Chartism in Wotton-under Edge, was kindly shared by Richard Barton, after our Weavers and Workhouse Walk during the Stroud Fringe: the original focus was upon the family history of the Lacey family, and this section has been taken from that overall...

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For John Summerbee

I knew of Mick and I knew of Nick, But I didn’t know of your existence, Until early one morning on the number 46 bus, When I was reading a Swindon Town programme. It was back in 1992, And you told me that Nicky was your nephew, And I looked at you, someone I had never...

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Come Back Dad (Again)

Come Back Dad And hide “British History For Boys” Underneath my pillow while I’m asleep, As a surprise coming home present; Come Back Dad And bring home Mars Bars and eucalyptus sweets On Thursday pay nights For our weekly treat; Come Back Dad And tap the beer barrel...

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The Anniversary of the NHS: Parity not Charity

Tucked between the Trinity Rooms and the Hospital we celebrated the NHS’s 65th birthday this week in the Pocket Park. Built and given to the people in the 1880s, the Trinity Rooms acted as a ward in the First World War for troops, many, almost certainly, wounded on...

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