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Pierre Botcherby

PhD Research

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


'"It's a good job that we've got a damn good rugby team, otherwise we'd have nothing to be hopeful about": rugby league and working-class community in de-industrialising England', Cycnos, (2024, forthcoming)

'Coal and community: an oral history of Binley colliery', Oral History, 52:2 (2024, forthcoming)

'There's no 'I' in Teams: creating community in the online classroom', Journal of PGR Pedagogic Practice, 1 (2021), 33-39.

'Best practice versus reality: Arts at Warwick, coronavirus, and remote interviewing in oral history', ExchangesLink opens in a new window, 8:4 (2021), 113-125.

'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)

'Coal and community: an oral history of Binley Colliery', Oral History Society Blog (April 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)

As co-author

Articles & Chapters

'The opportunities and challenges of the student archive: Then & Now: Arts at Warwick', in: They:Live, Student Lives Revealed Through Context-Based Art Practices, ed. Lorenzo J. Torres Hortelano, (2024, forthcoming) (with Dr. Josh Patel, Lauren Sleight, Dr. Kathryn Woods)

'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)

'Then & Now: Arts at Warwick introduction', ExchangesLink opens in a new window, 8:4 (2021), 1-8 (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)

As editor

'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

16 January 2023 - History Department Work-in-Progress Series (University of Warwick) - ‘‘It’s a good job that we’ve got a damn good rugby team, otherwise we’d have nothing to be hopeful about’: de-industrialisation, community, and sport in the 20th and 21st centuries’

16 December 2022 - The British Working-Class Since the 18th Century: Identity(-ies), Representations, (Re)definitions (Université Côte d’Azur, France) – ‘‘It’s a good job that we’ve got a damn good rugby team, otherwise we’d have nothing to be hopeful about’: Rugby League and working-class community in St. Helens and England in the 20th and 21st centuries’

24-26 August 2022 - British Society for Sports History (De Montfort University) - 'This sporting life: community, de-industrialisation, and Rugby League in St. Helens'

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

30 March 2022 - 'On Track with the Doctoral College: Viva preparation', online seminar for the Library and the Doctoral College (with Theo Aiolfi and Anastasia Stavridou)

14 March 2022 - 'Life after the PhD', online seminar for History Department (with Joshua Patel and Maria Reyes Baztan)

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)

24 October 2019 - 'How to: Dissertation', talk for Warwick HistSocLink opens in a new window (with Joshua PatelLink opens in a new window and Ronan LoveLink 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

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Outreach & Widening Participation Officer, Modern Records Centre

Warwick Oral History Network Co-Director (contact:

AFHEA (Associate Fellow Advance HELink opens in a new window)