ILP occupying Kingsley Hall, by Lilly Harper

5th October 2023

Focus: Independent Labour Party (ILP) occupying Kingsley Hall

It is hard to see beyond what we have only ever known. As such, it is difficult to imagine Kingsley Hall in 1911 as a puzzle piece fitting into an international political jigsaw.

This blog will discuss the Independent Labour Party’s activities in 1911, the year they reopened 59 Old Market Street as ‘Kingsley Hall’, the headquarters of the Bristol branch of the ILP.

First, introductions. The ILP was a socialist and labour organisation formed in 1893 which hoped to replace Britian’s capitalist infrastructure with “a classless society with all economic resources communally owned”. Lacking the popularity and internal structure of the major political parties, in 1975, the ILP identified itself as a political pressure group.

The ILP named 59 Old Market Street after Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) who was a socialist, Anglican clergyman and writer of both literary and historical works. Kingsley concerned himself with social problems and advocated discourse both through his literature and alternatively, coming to be one of the founding members of the Christian Socialist movement in 1848. As such, one can suggest ILP named Kingsley Hall in Charles’ memory as he represented a desire for radical reform that ascended class boundaries.

Pamphlets and leaflets published by the ILP in 1911 cover a broad range of matters, the most identified and prevalent being matters of: socialism, trade unionism, wages, railway strikes, the coal industry, opposition to workhouses, child welfare and education, foreign policy, anti-colonialism and of course internal ILP logistics, meetings and visions for the future.

In 1911, a Daily Newspaper Committee met to discuss the proposal of a daily socialist newspaper linked to the ILP, indicative of popular socialist discourse and an engaged audience.

Moreover, records show correspondence between party branches and external individuals and groups all over Britain in 1911 as well as America, Australia, Belgium, Constantinople (now Istanbul), Egypt, France, Greece, India, Iraq, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

As such, through the exploration of Kingsley Hall’s past occupants, specifically the ILP, one can discover a rich history of interconnectedness and desire to fight for social change. In 1911 alone, Kingsley Hall’s first year being named such, its inhabitants were part of a popular and far-reaching political party that advocated for the working class and other disadvantaged groups such as women and the suffrage movement as well as political activist groups representing colonised countries. In its additional 316 years of existence, Kingsley Hall must have much more to tell us.


In other news...
  • A blue banner with the words Not Everyone Goes Home for Christmas and a photo of a mother and child 28th November 2023

    As the festive season approaches, many of us are filled with excitement and anticipation for the warmth of home and the joy of family gatherings. However, it is important to remember that this is not the reality for everyone. This Giving Tuesday let’s shine a light on the young people in our community who don’t […]

  • A banner containing the words volunteer spotlight on a blue background with a photo of Pete. 16th November 2023

    Read about Pete’s journey from retired nurse to volunteer mentor for our Sout Glos team in our latest Volunteer Spotlight Blog. Discover how he overcame challenges and found fulfillment in mentoring young lives. What drew you to become a volunteer mentor?   Having proudly been a State Registered Nurse from age eighteen and now sixty-five, retirement […]

  • 13th October 2023

    As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, it’s time to reflect on the incredible journey of 1625 Independent People and the impact we’ve had on countless lives. Dom Wood, CEO, said, “I have been with 1625 Independent People since 1996 but the organisation started 13 years before that.  As I look back at what has been […]

  • A young person taking a photo on their phone of a red dress. 9th August 2023

    Here is a collection of poems written by Danni Willey, who is a member of our Youth Heritage Board. Danni has written some poems inspired by our visits to some heritage sites, including the Tobacco Factory and National Trust’s Tyntesfield.   The Tobacco Factory   Tobacco factory With its vast history Revelatory for its time […]