Community, de-industrialisation, and post-industrial regeneration in a Merseyside town: St. Helens, 1968-2018
Supervisors: Professor Mathew Thomson & Dr. Joachim Haberlen
My thesis explores the impact on community of de-industrialisation and (post-industrial) regeneration, via a case study of St. Helens (Merseyside, England) from the late 1960s to the present day. The main argument is that community has transformed from being centred around the working-class and industrial work to a less tangible but still present multiplicity of micro- and personal communities. This contrasts existing scholarship which often associates industrial and community decline.
I tend towards long-term analyses and explanations of my main themes: community, de-industrialisation, and regeneration. I offer these in the context of a large, formerly industrial town, a category often overlooked in favour of bigger cities, ‘new’ towns, or mono-industrial places. This long-termism is an existing trend in de-industrialisation studies, and the thesis endorses Jim Tomlinson’s proposition of de-industrialisation as a ‘meta-narrative’ for post-war Britain and Sherry Lee Linkon’s de-industrial ‘half-life’ theory. I argue regeneration is similarly an important meta-narrative: towns like St. Helens have been constantly redeveloping and regenerating across the thesis’ time period, with similar aims and objectives recurring.
I adopt what Robert Colls calls an ‘inside-out’ approach. In studying community’s development, I embrace its messiness as a concept, with each chapter offering a different perspective on community. I seek not to neatly define or measure community but to explore how it was experienced by the people of St. Helens. To this end, I use various approaches including oral history interviews, surveys, ‘imagined futures’ essays, and close analysis of materials produced by local grass-roots groups and the local press. I examine the role local industries and local/national government play in community, an important consideration for a town so influenced by its paternalist industries even today. Ultimately, I argue that community both evolves and persists in towns like St. Helens, despite the challenges of de-industrialisation and regeneration faced in recent decades.
Personal & Academic Background
I grew up in St. Helens, near Liverpool, before sending myself to Coventry in 2011 to study a BA in French & History at the University of Warwick. Upon graduating in 2015, I went souther still to enrol on a two year Masters degree in Anglophone Studies at the University of Nice, where I juggled studying and seminar tutoring with a part-time retail job and a brief career as a rickshaw driver. Having plentifully stocked myself with Vitamin D from the Côte d'Azur sky, I returned to Warwick in 2017 to begin my PhD.
Alongside researching, I am a keen but not overly-talented squash player and participate in the university's staff league. I have 3 years teaching experience in the History department and have managed/co-managed 3 student-led research projects, culminating in my post of Arts Faculty Student Experience Intern in 2021.
Since September 2018, I have been the Administrative Assistant for the Warwick Oral History NetworkLink opens in a new window. The OHN runs regular seminars, provides assistance to various community oral history projects, and hosts reading groups for researchers at the university wishing to share knowledge/experiences of using oral history.
In September 2021, shortly after handing in my thesis, I began a new role in the university's Doctoral CollegeLink opens in a new window as PGR Development Officer.
2017-2022 - DPhil History (University of Warwick)
2015-2017 – Bac+5 Etudes Anglophones (Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis), mention très bien
- 2nd year dissertation: Les classes ouvrières et les inégalités sociales en Grande-Bretagne depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale : origines, évolution, et le rôle de Margaret Thatcher [The working classes and social inequalities in Great Britain since World War Two: Origins, evolution, and the role of Margaret Thatcher] (supervisor: Prof. Didier Revest)
- 1st year dissertation: The socio-economic impact of de-industrialisation on women in England from the 1980s to the present day, with specific focus on St. Helens, Merseyside (supervisor: Prof. Dider Revest)
2011-2015 – BA (Hons) French & History (University of Warwick), 1st class (with merit for oral)
As sole author
'Strike at Pilkingtons: 50 years on', North West Labour History, 45 (2020), 53-59.
'Queens of the coal age: Lancashire Women Against Pit Closures and the Parkside Pit Camp, 1992-94', North West Labour HistoryLink opens in a new window, 44 (2019), 12-16.
Blogs and Other
'Walking the walk or just talking the talk? Equality, diversity, and inclusion for PGRs', PhD Life (August 2022)
''Hey, I know that now, ok?': Things I wish I'd known before starting the PhD', PhD Life (May 2022)
'Viva Las Vegas! The safest gamble you'll ever take', PhD Life (May 2022)
'Gis a job, I can do that', PhD Life (April 2022)
'Life in limbo: life post-submission', PhD Life (March 2022)
'Teaching what you (may not) know', PhD Life (February 2022)
'PGR possibilities: the Doctoral College and life beyond your department', PhD Life (January 2022)
'The first rule about productivity? Don't think about productivity!', PhD Life Blog (November 2021)
'Then and Now: History of the Faculty of ArtsLink opens in a new window', IATL Blogs and Reports (University of Warwick, 2020)
'Ongoing work: Binley, Coventry', Oral HistoryLink opens in a new window, 47:2 (2019), 12-13.
'Town centre regeneration, community, and the involvement of local residents'Link opens in a new window, Centre for the History of Retail and Distribution (CHORDLink opens in a new window) Conference Blogs (University of Wolverhampton, 2019)
'Review of La prison des pauvres: l'expérience des workhouses en AngleterreLink opens in a new window' (IHR Reviews in History, 2018)
'From pit head to wildlife haven: Binley Colliery and Claybrookes Marsh nature reserve (Coventry)', Northern Mine Research Society Newsletter, (February 2022), 4-5 (with Daniel Loveard, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust)
'Then & Now: Arts at Warwick student project: co-creation in the Covid-19 crisis', ExchangesLink opens in a new window, 8:4 (2021), 55-75 (with Dr. Kathryn Woods)
'Memories of Binley Colliery: An Oral History Project', (2021), 16pp., with Daniel Loveard (Warwickshire Wildlife Trust), Dan Smith, Fu Ge Yang, Kiera Evans, Amy Halliday (University of Warwick)
'Pilot launch issue: postgraduate pandemic pedagogies', Journal of PGR Pedagogic Practice, 1 (2021)
'Special Issue: Then & Now: Arts at Warwick', ExchangesLink opens in a new window, 8:4 (2021)
Conferences and seminars
4 July 2022 - Society for the Promotion of Urban Discussion (SPUD) XVI - 'People have the power? Public participation and urban regeneration in St. Helens'
7 April 2022 - 'Creating and working with oral historical sources' - Workshop chair and co-organiser
13 January 2022 - Warwick Modern British History Group - 'Voices of Guinness' - Reading Group Chair
1 December 2021 - Warwick Oral History Network - 'Memories of Binley Colliery' (with Daniel Loveard, Dan Smith, Fu Ge Yang, and Kiera Evans)
30 August-3 September 2021 - ELHN-WORCK Joint Conference (University of Vienna/online) - 'Community involvement in post-industrial environmental regeneration in St. Helens, the North-West, and England: Operation Groundwork'
10 May 2021 - TEALFestLink opens in a new window (Technology Enhanced Active Learning Festival) - 'Connecting a Teaching Community: PGR Digital Teacher Hub' (with Sara HattersleyLink opens in a new window, Josh PatelLink opens in a new window, Mateo MazzamurroLink opens in a new window, Matt HarwoodLink opens in a new window)
7-8, 14-15 November 2020 - North American Conference on British Studies 2020 - 'Community After Closure: A Case Study of St. Helens, Merseyside'
23-25 September 2020 - Building Welfare States: New Approaches to Architecture, Community, and Planning in Twentieth Century Britain (University of Warwick) - 'Building community through regeneration in St. Helens, Merseyside'
5-6 July 2019 - Oral History @ Work: Recording Change in Working Lives (Oral History Society Annual Conference, Swansea University) - 'A tale of two ranches? From John Wayne to JR Ewing: de-industrialisation and changes to work in St. Helens, Merseyside'
27 June 2019 - Urban Identities: Past and Present (Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick) - 'Building communities? Urban development in industrial and post-industrial St. Helens'
9 May 2019 - Retailing and Community: The Social Dimensions of Commerce in Historical Perspective (Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution, University of Wolverhampton) - 'Representing local interests in post-industrial town centre regeneration: a case study of St. Helens, Merseyside'
4 December 2018 - Queerness and Class: Readings from Britain and France (Queer History Reading Group, University of Warwick) - Reading Group Chair (with Somak BiswasLink opens in a new window and Andrew BurchellLink opens in a new window)
10 November 2018 - The Politics of Sedition in Long Nineteenth Century Britain: A Social and Cultural Discourse (Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick) - Panel Chair: 'Resistance from below: expressions of sedition from the working class'
25-26 October 2018 – The Pursuit of Legitimacy Power and its Manifestations in Political History (Leiden University, Holland) – 'Seeking continuity in a period of change: resisting industrial decline and post-industrial regeneration'
31 May-1 June 2018 – History Postgraduate Conference (University of Warwick) – 'Resisting de-industrialisation through memory: a case study of St. Helens, Merseyside'
23 May 2018 – Questioning the Disappearance of Disciplinary Boundaries (Annual PG Symposium of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Warwick) – 'Oral history: a chorus of disciplines'
Other Research Projects and Roles
January 2022-July 2022 - Active Bystanders in the Teaching Space
Creation of a bespoke training resource for university teaching staff, shaped around the principles of Active Bystander intervention.
March 2021-July 2021 - PGR Digital Teacher HubLink opens in a new window project
Development of project website, Moodle space, and Twitter account.
Co-editing of project journal, the Journal of PGR Pedagogic Practice.
January 2021-July 2021 - Student Research PortfolioLink opens in a new window project
Supervising the project in my role as Warwick Arts Faculty Student Engagement Intern.
March 2020-July 2021 - 'Then and Now: Arts at WarwickLink opens in a new window'
Co-managed this student-led history of the Faculty of Arts at Warwick with Dr. Kathryn Woods.
Read about the project on IATL's blogLink opens in a new window and through this interview with the Warwick University student newspaper: 'There was an unofficial society celebrating the Koan [...]Link opens in a new window', The Boar, 25.06.2020.
Listen to a podcastLink opens in a new window about the project, recorded with Dr. Gareth JohnsonLink opens in a new window, editor of ExchangesLink opens in a new window, which will publish a special issue about the project during the next academic year.
October 2018-September 2021 - 'Memories of Binley Colliery'
Project led by Warwickshire Wildlife TrustLink opens in a new window in association with Warwick Oral History Network.
Awarded Warwick Public Engagement FundingLink opens in a new window, 2019-2020.
Read about the project: 'Ongoing work: Binley, Coventry', Oral HistoryLink opens in a new window, 47:2, (Autumn 2019), 12-13.
Download our full-colour 16pp. booklet: 'Memories of Binley Colliery: An Oral History Project'
- Introduction to Active Bystander (Community Values Education Programme)
2020-2021, University of Warwick
- HI180, Britain in the Twentieth Century: A Social History
- Warwick Arts Faculty Student Engagement Intern.
2019-2020, University of Warwick
- HI153, The Making of the Modern World (weekly seminars + weekly study skills sessions)
2018-2019, University of Warwick
- HI153, The Making of the Modern World
2016-2017, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis
- English Studies (2nd year undergraduate), 'From Schism to Revolution' [History module covering the Tudors and the Stewarts]
- Sociology/Economics (2nd year undergraduate), 'English Language'
- Human Resources Management (1st year MA), 'English Language'
2016-2017, Ecole du Journalisme, Nice
- Journalism (General) (3rd year undergraduate), 'Debates and Interviews in English'
Outreach Work and Other Activities
12 October 2021 - 'How to: Dissertation', online talk for Warwick HistSoc (with Ronan LoveLink opens in a new window)
29 October 2020 - 'How to: Dissertation', online talk for Warwick HistSoc (recording available on FacebookLink opens in a new window)
13 November 2018 - Binley Colliery Oral History Project, Hagard Community Centre, Willenhall, Coventry
18 April 2018 – Entering Higher Education seminar, Rainford College
21 March 2018 – Guest speaker at Year 11 & 13 Rewards Evening, Rainford College
Doctoral Training Manager, CADRE/M4C, Arts Faculty
PGR Development Officer, Doctoral College
Senior Graduate Teaching Assistant, Community Values Education Programme
Warwick Oral History NetworkLink opens in a new window Administrative Assistant (contact: email@example.com)
AFHEA (Associate Fellow Advance HELink opens in a new window)