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Prezi slides for my paper for Cambridge Modern British History seminar, 19 November 2012

I'm giving a paper at the Modern British Seminar at Pembroke College, Cambridge, on 19 November. It's a 'big ideas' paper on space and place in northern England, 1789-1848, and the case study is the Chartist challenge to Leeds Vicar's Croft free market in 1844.

Here's the link to my prezi slides: http://prezi.com/yx4x1roxnyyg/cambridge-19-nov-2012/



Cambridge 19 Nov 2012 on Prezi

more messing around on google earth with old Manchester maps and protest sites

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Boddington's brewery with first ed OS map overlay














St Peter's Square, with 19th C processions and meetings. Didn't realise that Google Earth have 3d models of the trams.


Mancunian Way before and after - I love the way that Green's map of Manchester (1794) shows the Chorlton Hall estate on the eve of demolition, still surrounded by fields but with the roads laid out for development.

traingate Bayeux satire

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loyalist magistrates' posessions sold at Bonhams and Sothebys

I keep finding sales of various items owned by prominent loyalist magistrates from the North West in modern auction catalogues. The luxury and opulence of these items is clear, and shows how much money they were making from mining, textile, canal and later railways interests, and how they chose to display their wealth and gentility.

Here are the links to:

Sotherby's: Colonel Ralph Fletcher of Bolton's presentation cup, 1812 (awarded to him for his services in suppressing the Luddites)Bonham's: William Hulton of Hulton Park's four-poster bed, 1812 The reader comments on the MEN article on the latter are particularly telling of the legacy of Peterloo for Mancunians.

I discuss these items in a chapter I'm writing for a book on trans-Atlantic loyalism edited by Allan Blackstock (forthcoming).

There's also William Hulton's estate in Westhoughton, which was for sale in 2010 for £8.5m. 




Leeds 1845

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Leeds improvement act, 1845, section showing the free market extension, Vicar's Croft/Kirkgate, on Google Earth. The Corn Exchange is in 3d in the background.

Luke Fowler, 'The Poor Stockinger, The Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott'

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Turner-prize nominee Luke Fowler's film essay, 'The Poor Stockinger, The Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott' is currently showing at the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield until mid October. It will be the first moving image piece in their permanent collection.





To set things straight for the historians first of all, this is nothing to do with the eponymous early 19th century characters of the title, whom Thompson sought to 'rescue from the enormous condescension of posterity'.

Rather, it focuses on Thompson's own reflections on teaching WEA classes in the West Riding of Yorkshire in the early 1950s. Indeed, those stockingers, croppers, millenarians, and the handloom weavers and artisans that Thompson believed to be the linchpin for the making of the English working class between 1789 and 1832 were, by the 1950s, notably long gone from Bingley, Cleckheaton, Batley, Bradford, Keighley, and other industrial towns and villages. Thompson taught …

extract from Thomas Asline Ward of Sheffield's letter, 1820

"17 July 1820, Ward to Hunter.
...Trade is at a very low ebb ... From various causes, a plan for rescuing the trade of Sheffield from its depressed state has been too much limited and cramped in its operations...

A man 55 years old, who has been 26 years in a Friendly Society or Sick Club, and contributed upwards of 20£ to it, was excluded last week from incapacity to pay his arrears. Thus he has lost the provision for sickness and old age which his foresight had made. He is a labourer, and told me feelingly that he was not so strong as he had been, for last winter's starving had pulled him down.

Compare with these simple stories, what real interest is there in the disgusting exposure of Royal Failings..."

Messing about with 'nodes' on google fusion tables

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I've just been messing around with my Manchester political meetings sites data 1779-1848 using Google Fusion Tables 'experimental' facility. Not quite sure what the connections show other than visualising what's numerically obvious (radicals and loyalists like the pub; Chartists have a strong connection with open spaces) but it looks nice.

I've embedded some of the visualisations at the bottom. The fist plots the sites against types of political group (Chartist, loyalist, trade union, etc), and 'weights' them by latitude. Again, no idea what that really means, and it reminds me somewhat of a Wordle, which is a pretty visualisation of frequency of words but doesn't really give you more than you actually know about the data. The second one plots types of group with types of meeting site distinguished by colour. The third one compares the type of group with the name of the site of meeting and 'weighted' by total number of occurrences. Will experime…

Yorkshire Hussars and 1842

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Just bookmarking Henry Stook Smith, An Alphabetical List of the Officers of the Yorkshire Hussars:

visit of Queen Victoria to Worsley 1851

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Just bookmarking this page from the Illustrated London News, for reference.


Royal Jubilee, 1809

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Another bookmarking post for further research in this Jubilee Year.

I've already commented on the role of the Orange lodges and societies in my book Loyalism and Radicalism in Lancashire, 1798-1815. Other essential reading is Malcolm Chase's article, 'From Millennium to Anniversary', on the radical interpretations of Jubilee, Past and Present, 129 (1990).

An Account of the Celebrations of the Jubilee on the 25th October, 1809: 

Parliamentary papers, vol 51, 1837, on friendly societies

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Just bookmarking this parliamentary paper on friendly societies 1837 for future mapping:


William Horsfall's last journey, 28 April 1812

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This last weekend, Huddersfield commemorated the Luddites. Details about my public lecture at the Town Hall and the conference at the university will be up soon, and more information is on the Luddite Link website.

On Sunday Cyril and David from the very active local history society took us on a walk retracing the steps of the manufacturer William Horsfall, who was shot by Luddites on Crosland Moor on his way home from Huddersfield on 28 April 1812. Read the trial of the Luddites on google books.

We started at the site of the old cloth hall, demolished in 1936 and now the site of a Sainsbury's. We then walked to Spring Grove School to take in the view across the Colne Valley towards Crosland Moor.



View Larger Map
Descending the steep stone steps we got onto the Manchester Road, and to Longroyd Bridge, by the then-newly completed Huddersfield narrow canal. Alongside the canal were John Wood's cropping shop where George Mellor and other Luddite suspects worked.

We then climbed Bl…

Hear my response on the Today programme to Richard Jones's article on the Luddites

Catherine Hall, 'On Being a Historian in 2012', plenary lecture

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Catherine Hall gave the plenary lecture to the Social History Society annual conference at the University of Brighton on 4 April 2012.

I've done some brief lecture notes, which I repeat below. All interpretations of her argument are mine, not hers:


Hall began with a bold reminder that we are living in a critical time. Our work as historians is, and should be, always shaped by the world outside academia. The troubled times that we live in today suggest that we should rethink how we study the past. 

Hall then took us through her three major publications, explaining how the historical questions she asked had always been influenced by the moment in which she lived. History, she argues, is a living debate, always in context of the present world. In the 1960s, Marxism was a major influence. Then along came E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, which remains for Hall a foundational text. 

Women’s history disrupted the primary Marxist history of class from the late 1960s.…

from 'traditional' to 'digital' history

Amanda Goodrich gave a paper on the meaning of aristocracy at the C18 Britain seminar at the IHR yesterday. She explored text-mining various sources (British Library 19th century newspapers, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers) and using other digital resources such as Google ngram viewer to chart the use of the word 'aristocracy' in eighteenth and nineteenth-century print.

Two points emerged from the paper, which related more to methods rather than content:

1. using new digitised sources and databases as a 'layperson'. 
Amanda (and indeed I) researched and wrote a PhD thesis back in the days before digitised sources. The old way of calling up books and pamphlets in the British and Bodleian libraries, trawling through card catalogues in public libraries and local studies centres, transcribing text, cross-referencing using notecards and folders and post-its: all these are the main methods of doing text-based research.

Now we have…

Locating the Past: part III

Finally, Tim Hitchcock of the University of Hertfordshire gave the plenary lecture, 'Place and the Intellectual Politics of the Past'.

It was a lecture of two halves. First, he lamented the lack of collaboration of historians and geographers, who have been divided by the STEM vs arts fragmentation encouraged by universities and funding bodies. He reflected on the 'spatial turn' currently en vogue among historians, which he rightly suggested was a casual rapprochment with geography that was motivated by current academic fashions rather than a genuine desire to connect methods.

The 'spatial turn', as I have commented elsewhere, is in my view another extension of the cultural turn. It has a valuable emphasis on the symbolic and representative elements of space, but cannot provide a complete answer to the wider structures influencing historical action. Principally, it disregards the importance of place (as defined by custom, law, belonging, memory) in society and t…

Locating the Past, part II

My review of 'Locating the Past' at the IHR, 29 February, continued...

David Thomas, Director of technology at the National Archives explained some of the ways in which TNA is digitising their most popular maps. Nothing particularly radical there, but sorely needed.

Panel 2: Applications

Ian Gregory of Lancaster University,  Richard Coates of UWE, and Nigel Walford of Kingston University showed us how GIS is transforming their research.

Gregory's paper was the most interesting for me, and it dealt with some of the issues raised earlier by Humphrey Southall about geo-semantics. Spatial Humanities: Text, GIS, Places is an ERC funded project seeking to develop a GIS tool for text, amongst other aims.

The pilot project was Mapping the Lakes which data mined the text of the journeys of the Romantics Gray and Coleridge to map their emotional response to the landscapes of Cumbria. Colin Jones raised a query about the issue of literary genre and fictional licence with regard to this…

Locating the Past, the Gerald Aylmer seminar at the IHR, 29 Feb 2012, part I

I attended the Gerald Aylmer seminar day at the Institute of Historical Research on 29 February, which had the theme of 'Locating the Past'. It was a stimulating and exciting day showcasing different ways in which historians, geographers, archivists and, for want of a better term, pioneers in social media for community histories, were using GIS and other technologies. It was definitely a forward-looking event, highlighting the great possibilities offered by mapping historical data of all kinds, but also indicated the potential problems and tensions with what's going on at the moment.

Humphrey Southall

Humphrey Southall began with a whizz-through overview of the basics of GIS and its underlying principles.

His main argument revolved around the way in which geographers and historical geographers, using current GIS software, are often confined to a
geo-spatial definition of geography = maps and space. 
However, historians are generally most interested in the geo-semantic defin…

blog on the art of 1950s and 60s technology ads

Thanks to Simon Webster and the twittersphere for alerting me to this blog on brainpickings.org on science and technology advertisements from the 1950s and 60s. Such beautiful modernist art for products that were either industrial or military, reminding us that even in this simple abstraction, the threat of the cold war was always at hand.  The advertisement for copper, has small children watching television with a weird freak-out going on around them. So cool.


Listed buildings in St. Albans and Croydon

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Thanks to Tim Hitchcock for alerting me to sketchmap.co.uk.

It has a handy feature of a listed buildings and scheduled monuments layer. So here's St. Albans compared with Croydon:


Having read the conservation area reports for stalbans I presume that many of the blue blobs are for 'locally listed' rather than nationally?

Prohist2: reflections on memory, material culture and the public history of protest

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'Protest, Memory and Public History', an Economic history society funded workshop, took place at UWE on 11 February 2012. It formed the second part of my 'new approaches to the history of protest' series.

James Baker's report on his blog tells you all you need to know about the papers and discussion. I will add my thoughts on the day, but focused more on the theoretical implications.

The theme that emerged from the morning's session was locality, region, place, and memory. Echoes of Pierre Nora's lieux de memoire and Maurice Halbwach's 'every society must have its landmarks' ran through the papers. Yet those places, in England at least, were local and defined by local rather than national commemorations.

Protests, demonstrations, oppositional incidents occur in specific places. Even if at the time such events had greater repercussions or wider support nationally or internationally, often their occurrence is only commemorated and remembered loca…

Protest, Memory, and Public History: a workshop 11 February

We held the second leg of my 'new approaches to the history of protest' series at UWE, Bristol, on the bright frosty cold day of 11 February 2012. The theme this time was 'protest, memory and public history'. About 40 participants came, and included a healthy mix of trade union activists, local historians, museum professionals, postgrad- and undergraduate students, and academic historians.

I will post some reflections relating to theories of memory and material culture soon, but in the meantime, I must highly recommend James Baker (University of Kent)'s detailed write-up of the main discussion points of the day: http://cradledincaricature.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/prohist-2/

Manchester modernist society

I'm on a modernist bent at the moment, so am delighted to promote Manchester Modernist Society: http://www.manchestermodernistsociety.org/index.html - just check out the 'welcome to Manchester' poster on their homepage! They have events like a showing of 'Bata-ville' on 26 January, and are compiling a lovely modernist map of Manchester.