Bristol Bus Boycott Honoured by Historic England

Bristol Bus Boycott Honoured:

An important event that took place in Bristol has been honoured in a Historic England Campaign which celebrates protest and progress in the country.

The site of the Bristol Bus Boycott, has been selected as one of ten places that chronicles an important chapter in the history of Power, Protest and Progress, a campaign running by the heritage organisation.

A plaque commemorating the event hangs inside Bristol Bus Station.

The Bristol Bus Boycott took place in 1963 and was caused by the racial discrimination of Bristol Omnibus Company.  Guy Bailey was rejected for a job interview before it had even started because he was not white.

The manager of the state-owned Bristol company told him “we don’t employ black people” with it being an open secret in the city that only white drivers or conductors were ever employed by the company.

Bristolians Paul Stephenson and Roy Hackett urged a citywide boycott of the bus services which was supported by local people and famously led to Bristol South East MP Tony Benn saying he would “stay off the buses, even if I have to find a bike”.

The action eventually effected a change in policy at Bristol Omnibus Company leading to “complete integration” on the buses “without regard to race, colour or creed”.

Two years’ later, the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1968 brought in by Harold Wilson’s government, banned discrimination in public places and employment.

The Bristol Bus Boycott was seen as precursor to this act.

The city’s bus boycott features in the tenth category to be announced in Historic England’s campaign and podcast series – Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places.

The ten places in the category Power, Protest & Progress are: Bristol Bus Station, Wapping Road, Bristol, Sycamore in the village of Tolpuddle, Dorset, The Palace of Westminster, London, Cable Street, East London,  73 Riding House Street, Westminster, London, Group Operation Room, Uxbridge, London, Peter Street, Manchester, Rutherford Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, The Pitman’s Parliament, Durham Miners’ Hall, Redhill, Durham and Bosworth Battlefield, Leicestershire

Mark Hews, the Group Chief Executive of Ecclesiastical Insurance who sponsored the category said: “These ten places are a poignant reminder of the some of the pivotal struggles that have shaped our nation, whether that has been fighting inequality, discrimination or an enemy from abroad. The stories of power, protest and progress are a fitting way to complete the list of 100 Places that have shaped England’s history and we are proud to be able to celebrate them through our sponsorship of the campaign.”

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