April 17th – Unveiling Of Plaque For Walter Ayles

Blue Plaque For Walter Ayles

The plans for the unveiling of the Bristol Civic Society blue plaque to honour Walter Ayles, Bristol’s most prominent opponent of World War 1, have been finalised. Please join us on Sunday 17th April at 3.30pm at 12 Station Road, Ashley Down, BS7 9LB. Tell your friends and like/share details of the event on Facebook here.

Number 70 bus stops on Ashley Down Road, outside City of Bristol College. This is at the top of Station Road. Timetable: here

Map : Here (Google seems to put the arrow in the wrong place, but you can see Station Road!)

For more information email rememberingrealww1@gmail.com

There will be poetry, song and excerpts from Ayles’s statement to Bristol Magistrates in April 1916 when he appeared after his arrest for distributing ‘Repeal The Act’ – a pamphlet calling for the repeal of the Military Service Act under which conscription was introduced. He was sentenced by Bristol magistrates court to 61 days in prison.

Walter & Bertha Ayles At The Opening Of Kingsley Hall - September 1911
Walter & Bertha Ayles At The Opening Of Kingsley Hall – September 1911

After his imprisonment for distributing ‘Repeal The Act’, Ayles, the city councillor for Easton ward, was conscripted. Like hundreds of other men from Bristol and the surrounding area who opposed the war on moral, religious or political grounds he applied for conscientious objector status at a Military Service Tribunal. This was refused and he was handed over to the military. Refusing to wear uniform, he was court-martialed and served 112 days in prison with hard labour. On release he was conscripted again and imprisoned again. Overall he was imprisoned from April 1916 to February 1919. While Ayles was in prison, his wife Bertha, like many other relatives of conscientious objectors played a leading part in supporting him and continuing to oppose conscription and the war.

After his release from prison, Ayles returned to Bristol and was elected MP for Bristol North in 1923.

ristol Radical History Group has recently published a biography of Walter Ayles – ”Slaughter No Remedy’ by Colin Thomas, price £2.50. This will be on sale at the unveiling event, or online at www.brh.org.uk or from Hydra Bookshop, 34 Old Market Street, Bristol, BS2 0EZ.

For more information email rememberingrealww1@gmail.com

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