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

A public artwork celebrating a World War One conscientious objector has been removed from a wall in Bristol after a complaint it was “disrespectful”.

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.

Bristol City Council said it removed the piece after receiving a complaint.

A quote from Mr Ayles was included on the poster 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.’


Council leader Mark Weston said he agreed with the member of the public who complained that the artwork was “disrespectful”.

He said: “I think it’s offensive when we have Remembrance Sunday in two days’ time.

“It’s the timing and the content of the artwork when you link soldiers with those words.”

However, Richard Jones of the Bearpit Improvement Group described the removal of the board as a “clear act of censorship that has no place in an open and democratic society” and requested its “immediate reinstatement”.

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.


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