I am a social and cultural historian and geographer by training. I completed an MA in urban geography at King’s College, London in 2010; it included a thesis on Victorian housing in London. After moving to the Black Country in 2011 I began a part-time PhD at the University of Birmingham, looking at housing, poverty and the Irish in Victorian Wolverhampton. The completed thesis, awarded in 2022, is entitled“The blackest shadows are cast by the Irish Quarter”: the making of Stafford Street, 1832-1882. Both of these studies have had roots in the social histories of local areas, and in particular the experiences of poor and working-class people of diverse backgrounds, and their spaces in history. You can read more about my doctoral research here.
Outside of academia, I am a historical researcher for the wonderful Black Country Living Museum, where I study all sorts of aspects of Black Country society in the last 300 years. In particular, I have worked on their £30m BCLM: Forging Ahead project since 2016. As part of this process, I published my first book, Forging Ahead: Austerity to Prosperity in the Black Country 1945-1968, in 2021 with History West Midlands (read more here). We have also just opened the first new building as part of the project, the Elephant & Castle pub – not many historians can claim both a book and an entire building as part of their output!
I also work on a range of freelance projects, from writing and consultancy to community engagement and oral histories. Recent examples have included:
- Second Generation Stories (funded by NHLF) – historical research, exhibition text and oral histories
- 50 Years Of Bangla Brummies (funded by NHLF) – historical research and preparation of publication
- Chance Heritage Trust (funded by CRF) – community engagement including guided walks, local history workshops and online seminars.
I am an experienced oral historian and have conducted dozens of interviews in multiple roles. I am also an experienced writer and public speaker. I have appeared on ITV Midlands Today, BBC WM and Black Country Radio, and my research has been profiled in the Irish Post and Express & Star. I have provided research and advice for television too, including ITV’s Long Lost Families and Who Do You Think You Are? in the UK and USA.