The spring and summer of 1981 saw one of the most widespread and intense periods of 'widespread urban disturbance' in England in the 20th century. During the week of 6-13th July 1981 patterns of the disturbance diffusion emerge suggesting that major 'riots' in inner city areas of mixed ethnicity created numerous further incidents in other ethnically homogeneous districts, sometimes considerably distant from the original 'flash-point'. Ball investigates two examples two examples of Bristol-based unrest which shook the South-West.
The end of Newgate saw the beginning of an arduous struggle between the Bristol Corporation and some of Bristol’s leading citizens. The episode draws attention to the inner workings of contemporary municipal government in Bristol and leaves us with more questions than answers about the nature of the Bristol Corporation. Treading the line between a public and a private organisation, the conduct of the Corporation paints a picture of out-dated paternalism, characterised by wealth, far-reaching influence and self-interest.