Explore our research

  • Regional History

The Regional History Research Group at UCLan is of very long standing and combines the scholarship of a number of staff and postgraduate students. Collectively we have particular specialisms in various aspects of the social and economic history of the north of England since the early modern period. Much of this work is centred on the causes and consequences of the industrial revolution, incorporating work on economic and technological change in industry and agriculture, urbanisation, population history, the popular politics of the industrial revolution and some of the social movements that emerged from the period, in particular temperance. The economic transformation of the north of England since c. 1650 is not only complex and varied, but made a significant contribution to the making of the modern world within the UK and globally. It thus provides endless opportunities for research and also provides valuable insights into economic development, business structures and social structures from which modern developing and developed economies benefit.

Our approach to studying and communicating our understanding of the north is also varied. Local, regional and national archives form an important ground bed, but visual resources and physical artefacts, the landscape, buildings, northern culture and oral history all contribute to our work.

We seek to communicate our research to diverse audiences through books and scholarly journals, conferences, public lectures, exhibitions and broadcast media.

Expertise and Subject Areas

We have several areas of strength:

1. The industrial revolution

Steve Caunce and Andy Gritt have both engaged in long-term work on the industrial revolution period across the north of England. Their distinctive and innovative work recognises the contribution made by rural society to the industrialising process, but also incorporates a deep understanding of the wider north, and the importance of northern culture and landscape in the transformation of the economy.

2. Popular politics

Robert Poole is one of the country’s leading historians of the political culture of early nineteenth-century Lancashire. He has particularly focussed on the events leading up to the Peterloo Massacre. He has published widely in this area. He is currently working on a pilot project on the Home Office disturbance papers.

3. Sports history, especially of mountaineering

Jonathan Westaway has published a number of pioneering articles on the culture of mountaineering in the north of England, with special focus on Manchester’s German community. His work is very highly regarded, innovative and of the highest intellectual quality.

4. The temperance movement

The University of Central Lancashire is fortunate to house the archive of the British Temperance League, the Livesey Collection. This archive, as well as public archives and oral history, supports the work of Annemarie McAllister who is exploring the depths of this unrivalled collection for the first time. As well as a number of publications, a large number of academic conferences, public lectures and media appearances, Annemarie has curated a major exhibition on the Temperance Movement at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

5. Civic ceremony and pageantry

Keith Vernon’s work on the history of Preston Guild extends his work on civic society and the history of education. Keith has contributed to a recent academic trend of renewed interest in early twentieth century pageants with his detailed work on the 1922 Guild Pageant. This is part of a longer-term, wide-ranging study which involves Keith working closely with museum and archives professionals. Keith has also curated a major exhibition at the Museum of Lancashire on the history of Preston Guild.


  1. We have held regular public events, lectures, talks and seminars at the University campus as well as regularly speaking to external audiences about our research.
  2. We have regularly acted as consultants/advisers to archives and museums.
  3. Museum exhibitions have been curated from within the group including:
  • Demon Drink and the working Class exhibition at the People’s History Museum, Manchester
  • Preston Guild, Museum of Lancashire.

Publications and Outputs

Caunce, Stephen Andrew (2012) ‘The Hiring Fairs of Northern England, 1890-1930: A Regional Analysis of Commercial and Social Networking in Agriculture’, Past & Present, 217 (1). pp. 213-246. ISSN 0031-2746

Caunce, S.A. (2010) ‘Agriculture in North-Eastern England, 1750-1914: Relic, Parasite or a Key Part of Development?’, In: Northern Landscapes: Representations and Realities of North-East England. Regions and Regionalism in History . Boydell & Brewer , Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK, pp. 54-65. ISBN 978-1843835417

Caunce, Stephen (2009) ‘Known Only to Themselves and to God: Autobiography and Fiction as Sources for Family and Community History’. In: Family History in Lancashire: Issues and Approaches. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 99-120. ISBN 978-1443813433

Caunce, S (2006) ‘Mechanisation in English Agriculture: the Experience of the North-east, 1850-1914’, Rural History, 17 (1). pp. 23-45. ISSN 0956-7933

Caunce, S (2003) ‘Northern English Industrial Towns: Rivals or Partners?’, Urban History, 30 (3). pp. 338-358. ISSN 0963-9268

Caunce, S (2003) ‘Houses as Museums: The Case of the Yorkshire Wool Textile Industry’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6 (13). pp. 329-343. ISSN 14785110

Caunce, S (2003) ‘Banks, Communities and Manufacturing in West Yorkshire Textiles, c.1800-1830’. In: Industrial Clusters and Regional Business Networks in England, 1750-1970. Ashgate, pp. 112-129. ISBN 0 754 607615

Gritt, Andrew (2013) ‘The farming and domestic economy of a Lancashire smallholder: Richard Latham and the agricultural revolution, 1724-67’. In: The Farmer in England, 1650–1950. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-3962-2 (In Press)

Gritt, Andrew (2013) ‘Marriage, family and property accumulation during the agricultural revolution: a case study of a Lancashire parish’, The Local Historian, 43 (2). ISSN 0024-5585

Gritt, Andrew and Park, Peter (2011) ‘The workhouse populations of Lancashire in 1881’, Local Population Studies, 86 (-). pp. 37-65. ISSN 0143-2974

Gritt, Andrew (2009) Family history in Lancashire: issues and approaches. Cambridge Scholars Press, Cambridge, UK. ISBN 978-1443813433

Gritt, Andrew (2008) ‘Making Good Land from Bad: The Drainage of West Lancashire, c. 1650–1850’. Rural History, 19 (01). pp. 1-27. ISSN 0956-7933

Gritt, Andrew (2007) ‘Mortality crisis and household structure: an analysis of parish registers and the Compton census, Broughton, Lancashire, 1667-1676’. Local Population Studies, 79 (-). pp. 38-65. ISSN 0143-2974

Gritt, A (2005) ‘The operation of lifeleasehold tenure in south-west Lancashire, 1648-1697’. Agricultural History Review, 53 (1). pp. 1-23. ISSN 0002 1490

Gritt, A (2004) The Memoranda Books of Basil Thomas Eccleston, 1757-1785. Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. ISBN 0 902593 58 7

Gritt, A (2002) ‘The “survival” of service in the English agricultural labour force: lessons from Lancashire, c. 1650-1851’, Agricultural History Review, 50 (1). pp. 25-50. ISSN 0002 1490

Poole, Robert (2009) ‘French revolution or peasants’ revolt? Petitioners and rebels from the Blanketeers to the Chartists’, Labour History Review 74, 1 (April 2009), pp. 6-26. ISSN 0961-5652 (Print) 1745-8188
Poole, Robert (2006), ‘“By the Law or the Sword”: Peterloo Revisited’, History, Volume 91, Issue 302, pp. 254–276, 2006

Westaway, Jonathan (2013) ‘The Origins and Development of Mountaineering and Rock Climbing Tourism in the Lake District, c.1800-1914’. In: The making of a cultural landscape: the English Lake District as tourist destination, 1750-2010. Heritage, Culture and Identity . Ashgate, London. ISBN 978-1-4094-2368-3 (In Press)

Westaway, Jonathan (2013) ‘“Men who can last”: Mountaineering Endurance, the Lake District Fell Records and the Campaign for Everest, 1919-1924’. Sport in History, - (-). ISSN 1746-0263

Westaway, Jonathan (2013) ‘Mountains of Memory, Landscapes of Loss: Scafell Pike and Great Gable as War Memorials, 1919-1924’. Landscapes, - (-). ISSN 1466-2035 (In Press)

Westaway, Jonathan (2009) ‘The German Community in Manchester, Middle-Class Culture and the Development of Mountaineering in Britain, c. 1850-1914’. The English Historical Review, CXXIV (508). pp. 571-604. ISSN 0013-8266

Postgraduate Students

We also have a number of postgraduate students contributing to work on the north of England:

Susan Bailey, ‘The Band of Hope in 19th-century Preston’

Lewis Darwen, ‘The New Poor Law in Preston, 1834-1860’

Peter Hampson, ‘Industrial share-holding amongst the middle and working classes’

Alan Hughes, ‘Masculinity, femininity and regional identity on film, 1927-2000’

Ginette McDonald, ‘Family, kinship and community in the rural industrial village, c. 1880-1920’

Sally Pilkington, ‘A social history of public conveniences in north-east Lancashire, 1836-1936’

Jennifer Ray, ‘The Great War in Wesham’

Lynda Semans, ‘Rural housing in Lancashire, c. 1910-1939’

Jack Southern, ‘Cotton and the community in Lancashire, c. 1880-1930’

Bill Walker, ‘The Commissioners' churches and the people’

Additional Information

Postgraduate students

We welcome applications or enquiries from potential postgraduate students in any aspect of northern history since 1600, including: agriculture, education, industry, landscape history, leisure, mountaineering, temperance, tourism, urbanisation and welfare.

Contact details:
Dr Andy Gritt
Senior lecturer in History and Director of the Institute of Local and Family History
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Preston, PR1 2HE

Related Research Groups

History: public history

History: labour identities