I attended Newcastle University from 1967 to 1970 and gained a B.A. honours degree in Modern and Medieval History for which I was awarded the W H Burn Prize in History. In 1976, I received a Master of Letters (M.Litt.) after completing a part time thesis on ‘The Operation of the Poor Laws in the Hartlepool Poor Law Union 1858 -1930’.
I continued to write and talk about the English Poor Law during the 1970s culminating in a ‘significant essay’ on Poor Law and Organised Charity in North-East England 1870 – 1910 in M E Rose ‘The Poor and the City: The English Poor Law in its Urban Context’, Leicester University Press Themes in Urban History 1985 ISBN 0-7185-1240-5, pp89-132. Numerous references to this work have appeared in major historical publications since 1985. (Enter my name into Amazon for references).
From the late 1970s, my research interests began to move across to the history of traditional music, song and dance and the history of sport although research, generally, fell increasingly into the background due to my role as school press officer and Sunderland Rugby Club mini rugby coach and co-ordinator!
On the traditional front I published numerous articles and reviews in English Dance and Song, Enjoying History, Open History (Journal of The Open University), Journal of the Lakeland Dialect Society, Journal of the Society for Northern Studies, North East Labour History, Folk Music Journal, British Society of Sports History Newsletter and Northern Review plus numerous popular magazines and newspapers.
During this period I was also invited to give many lectures at venues such as Durham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, York and Birmingham Universities and the former Polytechnics at Sheffield, Newcastle and Sunderland. I also gave regular talks to local and family history groups.
Included among these lectures were the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Lecture at Cecil Sharp House, London in 1982 and an address to the John Clare Society Annual Conference at Peterborough in 1988.
During the pandemic I have put together a collection of correspondence to me from folk song researcher Roy Palmer. These are to be placed in his archive and I have completed an article about this correspondence and our relationship which I hope will be published sooner rather than later.
Co-operation with Dr Mike Huggins ( Emeritus Professor of cultural history at the University of Cumbria)
We share a common interest, both as entertainers and academics, in traditional song, music and the history of sport. Mike is a well-known writer and widely travelled lecturer and has won international awards for his work on the history of sport (see his personal web site). Together we have published a number of articles and given a number of joint lectures (usually featuring song as a medium).
- ‘Sport, Music-hall Culture and Popular Song in Nineteenth-century England’ Journal of Sport, Culture and Society (Frank Cass Vol 2 no 2, Summer 1999).
- ‘The Media, Regional Culture and the Great North Run: “Big Bren’s Human Race”‘ Journal of Sport, Culture and Society (Frank Cass Vol 4 no 1, Spring 2001).
- ‘Northern songs, Sporting Heroes and Regional Consciousness, c1800 -c1880: ‘Wor Stars that Shine’ Northern History, XLIV: September 2007. (On current reading list for History Department at the University of Warwick.)
- ‘At your leisure: designing enquiries to make students think about different interpretations of leisure’, Teaching History, 131. June 2008, pp. 42-3
We have also delivered lectures on the theme of song and sport at the University of Aarhus (Denmark), Semelweisss University (Budapest, Hungary) and Leeds Metropolitan University and gave a joint entertainment at a sport and literature conference at Stirling University in June 2009. We have published a lengthy academic article on the history of sport and tourism for a book on tourism in the English Lake District for;
‘Sports tourism in Cumbria’ in Walton and Wood (eds.) The Making of a Cultural Landscape: the English Lake District as Tourist Destination, 1750-2010 (Ashgate, 2013).
I have also made a number of contributions to the modern Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) published around the millennium. All in all I completed 13 commissions and have produced biographies on international footballers, songwriters, industrialists, heroes and rascals. One of the commissions was to research missing subjects from the original nineteenth century dictionary and my last commission concerned an England footballer and football manager. Those biographies published can be viewed on the ODNB web site by entering my name in the author section (they should come up as a single list).
I am currently working on a biography of British Lion, Barbarian and England rugby international Howard Marshall (1870 – 1929).
There are a number of references to my work in academic history books.