Steps Against War

A history walk with puppets discovering untold stories of Bedminster people in the First World War

Otherstory led a history walk with a difference in April 2019 in Bedminster, South Bristol. The walk used the medium of puppetry to tell the untold stories of Bedminster people who resisted the First World War, and who refused to kill.  This was a project in collaboration with Remembering the Real World War 1.

Two walks took place on 7th April, starting from the Tobacco Factory cafe.  The third walk started from the M Shed on Sun 28th April, as part of the Commemoration, Conflict and Conscience Festival.

The route
The walk wound its way through Southville, along North Street and part of East Street, ending up at the Steam Crane pub.  At points along the way mini puppetry performances and songs told stories of the more than 30 Bedminster men who refused to be conscripted into the army in 1916/18, and the network of people who supported them.  Audience members were given a guide to the walk.

“The different kinds of puppetry + song + narration worked really well together. Funny, moving, sparked the imagination”

“Enjoyed hearing the stories situated in the landscape and all the different ways used to tell these stories”

 audience comments

Two self-guided history walks around Bedminster with a digital map are available on the Bristol Radical History Group website.  A pamphlet telling the stories in more detail is published by Bristol Radical History Group, and is available here

A community production
The walk was the culmination of a three month collaboration with a group of local people. The group researched the stories and made puppets and sets, at a series of workshops.  The project has been assisted by the input of Bristol Archives and Bristol Libraries.  Supported by the National Lottery through The National Lottery Heritage Fund; and using public funding by Arts Council England; and by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

I learned about the fascinating hidden history of conscientious objection in my very own neighbourhood”.

It was really interesting to hear about WW1 from the perspective of this project. It was actually a more global perspective than I had heard before, considering all of the social change that was happening before the war and the concerns of the working people that were shared internationally”-

workshop participants


“Working alongside others, discussing the characters and their lives was instructive and fun

“I loved taking time out to develop the stencil for the soldier banner. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt I could put time aside to do a bit of drawing and creative thinking. Having the discipline of the workshops and a deadline to work to really helped me to focus on achieving something”.




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