WW1 'disrespectful' artwork to be reinstated on Bristol wall

  • Published
Artwork in the Bearpit, Bristol
Image caption,
The artwork was included in an exhibition at the Bearpit highlighting historic Bristol social campaigners

Public artwork celebrating a World War One conscientious objector - removed from a wall in Bristol because it was "disrespectful" - is to be reinstated.

The painting in the Bearpit on the James Barton Roundabout featured a quote from former North Bristol MP, Walter Ayles, who died in 1953.

The artwork was included in an exhibition highlighting historic Bristol social campaigners.

The city council said it removed it due to a complaint but will reinstate it.

The poster includes a quote from Mr Ayles which said: "Your King and Country Need You. Cold-blooded Murder. Crimes against God and man, To Maintain the Honour and Glory of the British Empire."


It was taken down by Bristol City Council after a member of the public complained it was "disrespectful".

Council leader Mark Weston had agreed the work was "offensive" in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

"It's the timing and the content of the artwork when you link soldiers with those words," he said.

However, the Bearpit Improvement Group said the removal was a "clear act of censorship that has no place in an open and democratic society" and called for it to be reinstated.

In a statement, the city council said it had now accepted the decision to remove it "was not the right one".

"We were asked to remove this artwork and acted in good faith to do so," a spokeswoman said.

"We will reinstate it and apologise to all concerned."

Walter Ayles was a Bristol councillor before World War One and was subsequently sent to prison for campaigning against the conflict as a conscientious objector.

He was elected Labour MP for Bristol North in 1923 and had a blue plaque unveiled in his honour last year.