Great Future

94.6% of our undergraduate students go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating

(Destinations of Leavers Survey 2013/14)

Sir Alistair Graham delivers the annual J.H. Whitley Lecture

left to right Professor Tim Thornton, Sir Alistair Graham, Mr John Whitley

Pictured (l-r) is the University's Professor Tim Thornton with guest speaker Sir Alistair Graham and Mr John Whitley.

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:16:00 BST

“Whitleyism” and the future of the Trade Unions

J.H. Whitley ◄ Speaker J.H. Whitley

PROMINENT 20th Century politician John Henry Whitley is remembered for his stint as Speaker of the House of Commons in the turbulent 1920s.  But another claim to fame – the creation of a new style of industrial relations – meant that his name became the basis for a word, “Whitleyism”.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the use of Whitley Councils or similar methods for dealing with relations between employers and employees”.

The University of Huddersfield, which houses the J.H. Whitley Archive, is the setting for an annual public lecture commemorating the politician, who was Liberal MP for his hometown of Halifax between 1900 and 1928 and Speaker from 1921-1928.

Past lectures have been delivered by leading historians and politicians, including current Commons Speaker John Bercow.  The 2016 edition was titled Have Trade Unions a Future? and given by Sir Alistair Graham, whose varied career in public service included two decades as an official and eventually general secretary of a large civil service union, the Civil and Public Services Association (CPSA).

He furnished figures that illustrated the steep contemporary decline in union membership and provided a range of reasons for this.

“Trade unions are in a harsh environment, but they have shown a flexibility and tenaciousness that should ensure their long-term survival,” said Sir Alistair, who was in no doubt that “the balance of power between workers and employers has tilted too far in favour of employers”.

Whitley cartoon “I believe trades unions play a vital role in civil society.  They are needed and I hope they will prosper in years to come,” he added, before condemning the 2016 Trade Union Act, which, he stated, is “deliberately designed to undermine trade unions and their support for the Labour Party, together with their scope for organising industrial action, without a shred of evidence to justify such changes.

“In my view this legislation is political viciousness of the worst sort.”

Sir Alistair’s lecture began with an outline of the history of Whitleyism and its origins in a report compiled in 1917 by J.H. Whitley.

“It was urged on employers and workpeople alike as a basis for reorganisation of industry.  Many people hailed Whitleyism as a saviour from industrial anarchy on the one hand and from socialism on the other,” said Sir Alistair.

The new system of consultation and negotiation did not take root in the private sector, but did become embedded in the Civil Service and Sir Alistair told his audience at the University’s Sir George Buckley Lecture Theatre that for years, his working life was dominated by Whitleyism.  

But this was also the period, he added, when Whitleyism “ceased to be a process for fostering good industrial relations in the public service”.

The end came, he said, when the Government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdrew from a long-established, system of pay negotiation in the civil service.  This led to a 1981 strike, eventually lost by the union.

“But even during that difficult period, the feeling was that we should keep communication and discussion open,” said Sir Alistair, who told how in the spirit of Whitleyism, leaders and senior civil service officials had informal walks around the duck pond in St James’s Park, in order to keep communications open.

Mr John Whitley “To this day – and I’m a member of it – there is a luncheon club for retired senior civil servants and ex-civil service trade union leaders that meets once a quarter.  It is called The Owls – which stands for Old Whitley Lags.”

Sir Alistair said that he had first became involved in Whitleyism in 1966, when he became national officer of the CPSA.

“In my view Whitleyism did foster a shared management and staff approach to the public service.  Alongside strong trade unionism in the civil service, from the 1920s it produced crucial developments such as equal pay for female and male civil servants – which was a radical step – and it produced ground-breaking civil service pension scheme.”

The J.H. Whitley Archive is kept at the University of Huddersfield’s award-winning Heritage Quay. It was deposited at the University by the former Speaker’s grandson, Mr John Whitley (pictured left).  When he introduced the 2016 lecture he said that “it is five years ago that we deposited the papers here and with the passing of each year we are more convinced that we did the right thing.”  The archives were being used by increasing numbers of researchers, including students, he added

The annual lectures are organised by the History Department at the University of Huddersfield and Professor Paul Ward – Head of the Department of History, English, Languages and Media – presided over the wide-ranging question-and-answer session with Sir Alistair that followed his address.



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Voices of Madness conference attracts a worldwide audience

Dr Steve Taylor, Dr Sarah Kendal, Professor Catharine Coleborne, Dr Tommy Dickinson

Pictured (l-r) are conference co-organisers Dr Steve Taylor and Dr Sarah Kendal with keynote speakers Professor Catharine Coleborne and Dr Tommy Dickinson

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:43:00 BST

The two-day event welcomed speakers and delegates from five continents

Dr Rob EllisConference organiser Dr Rob Ellis

WORLDWIDE delegates came to Huddersfield for a major conference that explored the histories of mental illness over several centuries.

The event was titled Voices of Madness, organised under the aegis of the Centre for Health Histories at the University of Huddersfield.  Over two days there were 28 papers and two keynote lectures from researchers based at more than 20 universities and other institutions in five continents.  Overseas visitors came from countries that included the USA, South Africa, Italy, India, the Netherlands and Australia.

Mike YoungHuddersfield PHD Researcher Mike Young

There were also delegates from 16 UK institutions and several papers from researchers at the University of Huddersfield itself.  They included Alice Brumby on WWI shell shock victims during the inter-war years; Mike Young on mental illness among Britain’s rulers of the Raj in India; Andy Brammer on the history of approved mental health professionals; and Clare Shaw – also a critically acclaimed poet – on the mental health survivor movement.

The opening keynote address was from Professor Catharine Coleborne of the University of Newcastle in Australia, whose talk was titled Talk, Dissent, Silence: Narrating Madness in the Twentieth Century. On day two of the conference, there was a keynote from Dr Tommy Dickinson of the University of Manchester – “Curing Queers”: Mental Health Nurses and the Patients, 1935-1974.

Andy BrammerHuddersfield PHD Researcher Andy Brammer

Over the course of the conference there were ten panels of papers.  Overseas contributors included Marte aan de Kerk, of the University of Amsterdam, who spoke on social care in Amsterdam and Utrecht in the 17th and 18th centuries; Rory Du Plessis, of the University of Pretoria, with a paper on the casebooks of South Africa’s Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum, 1890-1907; Chiara Bombardei, of Reggio Emilia in Italy, on a museum for the history of psychiatry of which she is curator; Tomas Vaiseta, of Vilnius University in Lithuania, who spoke of how patients perceived violence in psychiatric hospitals during the Soviet era; and Jennie Sejr Junghans, of the European University Institute in Florence, on mentally ill children at Copenhagen University Hospital in the mid-20th century.

From the USA, there were three contributors from the Indiana Medical History Museum, and Rachel Baer of Susquehanna University spoke on people declared to be lunatics in an agricultural community in Pennsylvania in the late 1800s.

Clare ShawHuddersfield Researcher and poet Clare Shaw

The wide range of topics covered by UK researchers included Experiences of the Madhouse in England, 1650-1815 (Len Smith of the University of Birmingham); Sailors, Sanity and Shore Leave (Jen Kain of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London); What the Early Mad Doctors said about Patient Work (Jane Freebody, of Oxford Brookes University); and Uncovering the Voice and Experience of Chronic Insanity in the 19th century (Stef Eastoe, Birkbeck College, University of London).

One of the special events at the conference was a drama production exploring mental illness that took place in one of the studio theatres at the University of Huddersfield’s Sir Patrick Stewart Building.

Voices of Madness was organised by Dr Rob Ellis, a Senior Lecture at the University of Huddersfield who specialises in the history of mental health and learning disability.  He is co-director of the Centre for Health Histories, where Dr Steve Taylor – also one of the organising team – has been a Research Assistant.  The organising trio was completed by Dr Sarah Kendal, an experienced mental health nurse turned lecturer-researcher who is now a Head of Division in the University’s School of Human and Health Sciences.

Commenting on the success of the conference, Dr Ellis said: “During her keynote, Professor Coleborne mentioned that she was told by one academic in 1996 that studies of the history of madness were already “over”.  Since that time, the field has gone from strength to strength and the conference reflected both its current vibrancy and its breadth.

“It was great to see a mix of disciplines represented and the plan now is to follow up the conference with an edited collection drawn from the papers presented.  Moreover, we have received a lot of positive feedback from the delegates and it seems there is a demand to reconvene in a few years.”



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Historian invited to give Jersey’s Joan Stevens Memorial Lecture

Huddersfield's Professor Tim Thornton is welcomed by Richard Falle, Advocate and Consultant to Jersey Law Firm Bois Bois Lawyers

Huddersfield's Professor Tim Thornton is welcomed by Richard Falle, Advocate and Consultant to Jersey law firm Bois Bois Lawyers.

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:07:00 BST

Professor Tim Thornton delivers the prestigious memorial lecture at the invitation of the Société Jersiaise

Société Jersiaise logo CHANNEL Islanders have a passion for their past, and the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Tim Thornton has become influential as a leading contemporary authority on the complex and fascinating early histories of Jersey and Guernsey.

His latest honour was to be invited by the long-established Société Jersiaise  to deliver the prestigious Joan Stevens Memorial Lecture.  To a large audience that included major figures in Jersey politics and the law, he discussed the relationship between the Channel Islands and the law courts of Westminster over the course of several centuries. 

Book - The Channel Islands, 1370-1640: Between England and Normandy Despite the fact that Jersey and Guernsey jealously guarded the privilege, granted by English Royal charter in 1341, to retain their own Norman-French legal system – still in place today – some islanders took their disputes to Westminster.  Professor Thornton explored the reasons for these legal developments and the way local communities and the English crown responded.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield Professor Thornton is a historian of the medieval and Tudor periods who is influential for his research and publications on “peripheral” parts of Britain that were distant from centres of Royal power.

The Channel Islands have been a key area of research, and his books include The Charters of Guernsey (2004) and The Channel Islands, 1370-1640: Between England and Normandy.  Published in 2012, this was the first major history of late medieval and early modern Jersey and Guernsey to have appeared in several decades.

Professor Thornton has continued to work on the history of the islands and his Joan Stevens Memorial Lecture will be the basis for a new book, to be published by the Société Jersiaise.

Location map of Jersey Joan Stevens, who died in 1986, was a Jersey woman who became a popular historian of the island’s architecture.  A series of lectures is held to commemorate her, and over the years it has been delivered by leading historians that included Barry Cunliffe and Asa Briggs.  Professor Thornton has now joined this roster.

“It was quite an honour to be invited and it was marvellous to have an audience that included not only other historians but also a very wide cross section of the islands’ communities, including some prominent lawyers and a recent Bailiff of Jersey,” he said.

In the past, Professor Thornton has found that his work on the distant past of the Channel Islands has fed into current debate on political and legal issues and he is convinced that when Jersey and Guernsey seek to confirm their relationship with the EU and a post-Brexit Britain, history will once again be mustered during the argument.

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Walking and talking for greater understanding of the modern world

Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 09:54:00 BST

Almost 100 delegates took part in the World Congress of Psychogeography

‌‌Conference Co-organisers Dr Alex Bridger (left) and Phil Wood ► Conference co-organisers Dr Alex Bridger (left) and Phil Wood

ALMOST 100 people came to Huddersfield and used their feet to gain a greater understanding of the modern world and its ways.  It was the 4th World Congress of Psychogeography – two days of walks and talks.

The event was based at the University of Huddersfield’s Heritage Quay and the co-organiser was Dr Alex Bridger – a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and a leading authority on psychogeography – alongside David Smith, Heritage Quay’s Participation and Engagement Officer, and Phil Wood and Tim Water.

Dr Bridger is the author of articles and a forthcoming book on the technique, in which people take walks – sometimes randomly – around the urban environment and learn its lessons.

It is “a creative and playful way of travelling around by foot”, according to the Congress’s own definition.  “This is different to a casual walk or a stroll because the aim is to explore places using ideas and chance or spur-of-the-moment decisions.”

Opening speaker, Phil SmithOpening speaker, Phil Smith

Over the course of its two days, the Congress had a schedule of 10 walks and talks led by a range of experts.  Dr Bridger himself gave a talk titled What is Psychogeography? followed by a town centre walk titled The Northern Powerhouse in a post-Brexit world.  It was designed to stimulate thoughts about consumerism, surveillance, security and ownership.

There were also keynote addresses by Associate Professor Phil Smith – whose latest book is titled The Footbook of Zombie Walking – and Dr Tina Richardson, who recently edited the book Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography.

Other talks and walks covered public parks, hidden mine workings, migrant areas of town and there was a scavenger’s hunt that invited walkers to “follow a trail around the University’s campus in the search of items and stories, mundane or otherwise”.  It was hosted by Dr Sophia Emmanouil, a Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Art and Design at the University of Huddersfield.  She has collaborated with Dr Bridger on a recent paper about psychogeographical community work at the Hoot Creative Arts centre in Huddersfield. 

Delegates setting out on the special 'warm-up' event in Huddersfield town centre, Harold Wilson's Turbo Derive, led by Phill Harding (front right) Delegates setting out on the special ‘warm-up’ event in Huddersfield town centre, Harold Wilson’s Turbo Dérive, led by Phill Harding (front right)

Among the writers, researchers and creative artists who gave talks and led walks were Phil Smith, Sophia Emmanouil, Tim Waters and Phil Wood, plus David Smith and Travis Elborough, whose latest book is A Walk in the Park; The Life and Times of a People's Institution.

Some 95 people signed up for the Congress – including overseas participants.  “It brought together people from many disparate contexts, political affiliations and social groups,” said Dr Bridger.

The event was a success – but all is not what it seems in the provocative and sometimes subversive world of psychogeography.

For one thing, the 4th World Congress was actually the second – the first took place in Huddersfield and Leeds last year – and the next gathering will probably be the 4th World Congress too.  “It saves us having to create a new web page!” said Dr Bridger.  Also, although delegates voted that the next congress will take place in Copenhagen, it is likely to be held in Huddersfield again!


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