Bridgwater, 1983 to 2004: a working-class, left-wing, rebellious town

Dave Chapple’s latest

Dave Chapple, a Somerset postman for 38 years and a trades union agitator for 46 years, has written and, via his Somerset Socialist Library imprint, published his fifth book in 18 months. Dave’s latest book is a tribute to his adopted town of Bridgwater, where he has lived since 1987. “Bridgwater 1983 to 2004: A working-class, left-wing, rebellious town” casts a detailed and at times critical look at twenty-one years of radical socialist organising, through trades unions, the Labour Party, Labour Councillors, May Day marches and rallies, the Somerset Community Defence Campaign and its journal the Somerset Clarion, the Eastover Community Association, fighting unemployment, opposing both Gulf wars, anti-war, anti-racist and anti-nuclear campaigns, defending the NHS and its ambulance and maternity services, even seeing off an invasion by Ulster Unionists and their fascist hangers on.

A serious and important question is implied throughout: what is the relationship between leaders and led, between a dozen radical Bridgwater community organisers, nearly all left-wing, and the wider, mostly working-class Bridgwater community? In the end, did Bridgwater’s socialists make a real difference? Was the serious national decline in working-class confidence after the NUM strike of 1984/5, taken for granted by most historians, slowed down or even arrested in this historically-radical Somerset town?
Dave Chapple, Socialist Author

The book is both a unique local case-study in late 20th-century left-wing politics, and a labour of love to Dave’s adopted town. Funded by a generous grant by Dave’s trade union the CWU; lavishly illustrated with vintage photographs and documents in both black & white and colour, and beautifully designed by former print shop steward Nigel Costley, now Secretary of the South West TUC, the book is a 114-page A4-sized softback.

The book costs £10 plus £2 postage and packing, and is available from Bridgwater Arts Centre; from Adrian’s Record Shop at Cornhill Market, or from Dave direct at 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU.             Phone 07707869144
Dave is especially hoping for interest from Somerset or West-Country-based trade union branches, district committees and regional committees. For bulk orders from trades unions and other history, political and/or community groups, he can offer 5 books for the price of 4 or 10 books for the price of 8.

Somerset Socialist Library books by Dave Chapple

Dave’s previously-published books are  still available for sale at £5 plus £2 postage and packing.
Dave with his last book ‘Soldier Saving Lives’

1. Henry Suss and the Jewish Working-Class of Manchester and Salford 2004
2. Class Conflict in a Somerset Town: Bridgwater 1924 to 1927 2006
3. Grasshoppers, Stonkers and Straight Eights: George Massey and Bristol Post Office Workers, 1930
to 1976 2009
Second-hand copies are sometimes available on-line via sites such as Bibliophile and ABE Books.Com
4. Bristol: 13 miles due east autobiography 2020
5. Clevedon Postman 1978 to 1987 autobiography 2020
6. Local, Loud, Left-wing, Proud: The 1987 General Election campaign in North Somerset
autobiography 2020
7. Soldier Saving Lives: Keith Howard Andrews: Willesden, Aldershot, Quetta, Shanghai, Spain,
Dunkirk, Taunton 2020
8. Socialists in a Somerset Town: Bridgwater 1983 to 2004 2020


Three new books from Socialist author Dave Chapple

Work in progress
1. “Close a Pit and a community closes”: Somerset and the Miners’ Strike of 1984/5
2. “Scarred by those thin black veins” Somerset Coal Miners, a social and political history

1. “Fighting Hitler, fighting Tories”: Alfred Richard Borodin Birnbaum, “Fred Phillips,” and the ‘Red
Borough’ of Bridgwater
2. Council House Conservatives: the Chapple family in Clevedon, Somerset, 1951 to 1971
3. “Cruise missiles are coming!” Youth protest and rebellion in Clevedon, Somerset, 1980 to 1985
4. “New Model Socialism”: The Somerset Community Defence Campaign, 1985 to 1995
5. “From the Leven to the Parrett:” Andy Keir, Somerset Scottish socialist
6. Somerset farm workers and their trade union 1873 to 1990
7. An unbeaten militant workplace: the Royal Mail Delivery Office, Bridgwater, Somerset,
1985 to 2016
8. Ska in Jamaica and Britain: musicians, singers, sound systems, records, society and politics,
1956 to 1966
9. “Boogie in our Bones”: Black Music in Britain, 1930 to 1980
10. “Better to break the law than break the poor”: The Bridgwater Anti-Poll-Tax Union, 1988 to 1994

As their author and publisher, I welcome feedback, critical or otherwise, on all these books.
Dave Chapple, Somerset Socialist Library, Bridgwater, Somerset 07707869144

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