Citizen Trump? Dr Thomas Tunstall-Allcock and colleagues reflect on the Presidential candidate’s favourite film…




The current presidential election in the United States is a cause of mixed feelings. As someone with family and friends in and from the U.S., the popularity of Donald Trump’s divisive, rambling, and often deranged campaign is a source of anxiety and frustration. As a historian of modern American politics and foreign policy though, it is both a source of fascination and, I’m reluctant to admit, something of a blessing in that it has prompted huge (or should that be ‘yuge’?) interest from people outside the U.S. keen to understand how and why a figure as nakedly unpleasant as Trump is able to garner enough support to challenge for the world’s most powerful office. This interest was reflected recently in an invitation to attend and participate in last week’s edition of Screened/MCR, a regular film and discussion night hosted at Texture in the Northern Quarter. The event, titled ‘Citizen Trump,’ featured three speakers from the University of Manchester, Angelia Wilson, Professor of Politics, and David Butler, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Screen Studies, as well as myself, before a screening of Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed favourite film, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

   For anyone yet to see the film in the 75 years since its release, Citizen Kane follows the life of man who rises from nothing to a position of vast wealth and influence, revealing its story through a ground-breaking non-linear structure told from the perspective of multiple characters. Closely based on the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Kane is portrayed as increasingly ruthless and acquisitive, ultimately dying alone and bitter, surrounded by the vast wealth of his ‘Xanadu’ estate. The night was kicked off by a wonderfully revealing video interview of Trump discussing what the film means to him. His ‘insights,’ such as noting that the film suggests the results of a life dedicated to accumulation at all costs may not be ‘necessarily all positive,’ are definitely worth a watch here. Angelia then provided a fascinating and admirably concise summary of the major cultural and political developments in American history that have enabled Trump’s rise, including the growth in political influence of the Christian right-wing and the continued relevance of the belief in American exceptionalism, before David provided some fantastic insight into the development, production, and legacy of Welles’ masterpiece. I’m unable to do their talks justice in a brief blog entry, but sandwiched between them was my own, more rambling, contribution, which considered some of the more striking parallels between Hearst/Kane and Donald Trump that the current Republican nominee may not be so aware of.


   Trump’s surprise candidacy has caused many observers who had confidently predicted that he would fail to even win the Republican nomination to desperately seek historical allegories in order to explain his rise. Articles and blogs of varied quality and historical accuracy have compared Trump to presidents Ronald Reagan and Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, race-baiting former governor of Alabama George Wallace, failed Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and many more besides. Some, I believe, offer more enlightenment than others, Goldwater in particular, and I talked about this a little during the event.[1] In preparing for the talk and re-watching parts of a film I had not seen in full since a film studies class as an undergraduate many years ago though, I was struck by the ease with which it is possible to draw parallels between Hearst/Kane and the current Republican nominee, few of which are flattering to Trump. All three amassed great wealth and then built lavish, garish monuments to their own achievements. Hearst built his own castle in San Simeon, California, which inspired Kane’s Xanadu, while Trump ensures his name is plastered on as many buildings as he can. All are representative of a certain and familiar type of American, one who acquires great wealth and then seeks fresh avenues to utilise it, whether through philanthropy, founding colleges and schools (or “universities” in Trump’s case), or launching political campaigns. Both the real-life Hearst and fictional Kane used their fortunes to enter politics, running campaigns imbued with strains of populism and fascism, positioning themselves as the political ‘outsider,’ not part of a corrupt establishment, and as the friend of the working man, while shaking hands with Adolf Hitler. Trump too displays the same concerning combination, the man of vast wealth and influence claiming to be the political outsider, on the side of the working class, while continuously expressing his admiration for ‘strong’ leadership in the form of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Finally, for both Trump and Kane, with their personality driven, populist campaigns, politics is ultimately simply another avenue in which to feed vast egos.

   The similarities should not be overstated though. Charles Foster Kane shows occasional flashes of charm, and his campaign is laid low by personal scandal. Trump on the other hand lacks basic interpersonal skills yet appears immune to controversies that would sink other politicians. More worryingly, in obtaining the Republican nomination he has already enjoyed more political success and certainly greater national prominence than Kane’s failed gubernatorial campaign, or Hearst’s occasional victories sandwiched between enough defeats to earn him the nickname ‘William Also-Randolph Hearst’ among some rivals. Trump’s revealing assessment of Kane’s life as a ‘great rise’ followed by a ‘modest fall’ is based on the fact that despite political and personal losses Kane remains financially wealthy. My hope is that Trump’s political career continues to oddly parallel that of the subject of his favourite film; that the voters reject his vicious brand of politics and hand him a humiliating defeat. It will surely be the best outcome for the United States, and the rest of us, if Trump’s rise is halted by such a ‘modest fall,’ and he can retreat to his own Xanadu, reassuring us all over twitter at 3am that his life remains a bed of rosebuds.


[1] Some of the better articles on the Goldwater-Trump parallels are: Fred Barnes, ‘Trump and the Ghost of Goldwater,’ Wall Street Journal, 26/06/2016, and Albert R. Hunt, ‘Why Trump Isn’t Like Goldwater’ 09/09/2016,


Opportunities and challenges in the sharing economy: Dr Alexia Yates discusses what Airbnb can tell us about nineteenth-century Paris.

As a historian of cities and economic life, I am interested in how markets transform our understanding and use of space, as well as how local governments grapple with the political and social consequences of those economic changes. Studying real estate as an object with a history offers useful insights for some contemporary urban issues. The city I have studied most closely, Paris, is one of several currently struggling to manage the range of opportunities and challenges presented by the so-called sharing economy. October 1st marks one year since the popular house-sharing service, Airbnb, began including a local tourist tax in its rates for Parisian rentals. One year of the 83 euro cents tax (per rental, per night) has netted the city 5.5 million euro. The city will dedicate the money to tourism expenditures, intending undoubtedly to help maintain the city’s (and country’s) prominence as the second most significant Airbnb market in the world after the United States.

Paris and Airbnb negotiated the tourist fee after complaints of unfair competition from the city’s hospitality industry, as well as in response to ongoing worries about the effect of these short-term rentals on the availability and affordability of housing in the capital city. It is one of several measures introduced by the city government to mitigate the spread of professionalized subletting. When the municipality published data on approved short-term rentals earlier this summer it incurred the ire of owners and residents who viewed the move as encouraging denunciation of neighbour by neighbour. (Critics bandied about the term ‘délation,’ which has distinct links to France’s experience of occupation during the Second World War.) Despite such controversies, historical precedent in the city demonstrates the importance of recapturing some of the income from property market transformations for public purpose.

Links between the real estate industry and tourism are a longstanding feature of modern urban growth. In Paris, these links were established in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. Affluent British visitors regained access to the continent, creating a booming business in tours to France that went beyond providing transportation and a guide. The agency of John Arthur et Tiffin was founded by Englishman John Arthur in 1818 (it still maintains offices today in the city’s 17th district) and quickly evolved into one of the city’s earliest and most innovative real estate brokerages. William Henry Tiffen, a collaborator who honed his skills in the popular tourist destination of Nice, took over the firm in the 1880s and revolutionized property advertising in the capital with a pioneering marketing journal filled with colour floor plans and photos of country estates. Not content to broker, the company began its own property development operations in the 1890s.


Cover from John Arthur et Tiffen’s Grand Journal Officiel des Locations et de la Vente, 1906

The Pereire brothers, financiers Emile and Isaac, give us the most spectacular example of the links between real estate speculation and tourism infrastructure. Well-known as invaluable financial intermediaries in Haussmann’s famous renovation of Paris in the 1850s and 1860s, the Pereires’ massive Compagnie Immobilière – Real Estate Company – anchored their ventures around the Universal Expositions that took place in Paris in 1855 and 1867, introducing the first American-style luxury hotels to the city with the Grand Hotel du Louvre in 1855 and the Grand Hotel at the new place de l’Opéra in 1862.


The Grand Hôtel du Louvre

But accommodating visitors was not only the business of real estate professionals and hoteliers. By studying tax records we can see how ordinary residential spaces were opened up to a floating population of tourists and temporary residents in the second half of the nineteenth century. Every ten years, tax officials visited each apartment in the capital, climbing stairs, traversing courtyards, and touring homes in order to record their rents, numbers of windows and doors, and tenants’ occupation – all of which were linked to different taxes. Residents who rented out parts of their apartments on a sufficiently regular basis were classified as professionals and taxed accordingly. Their rentals had to be advertised with a specially-coloured sign; some were denounced to officials by neighbours, who complained about the turnover of anonymous residents in the building. These records reveal the spread of middle-class subletting in the fin-de-siècle capital. Importantly, regions of speculative development, where rents were high and – every ten years or so – another Universal Exposition implanted itself in the vicinity, developed distinct traditions of house-sharing, with some buildings even evolving into fully-fledged hotels. Many of these subletters were women, especially widows, looking to support themselves in increasingly pricey apartments.


Municipal tax records (Archives de Paris), showing indications of subletters taxed by the city at the end of the 19th century.

These renters were facing exorbitant rents and – then as now – found creative ways to make ends meet by commercializing parts of their apartments. And corporate property owners and management companies – both new entities in the rental market in the late nineteenth century – tolerated the practice because it allowed them to keep charging high rents and pass on returns to their shareholders. We have few ways of knowing how these temporary house letters viewed their arrangement, whether it came as a regretted last resort or merely provided easy money and a happy distraction to empty nesters. In some instances, renters evolved into professional subletters, accumulating apartments and subletting on a large scale. Importantly, in some buildings I studied, it took only ten years for buildings to move entirely from the long-term to the short-term market, pulled by the opportunities presented in this more expensive sector.

Advocates of Airbnb, Uber, and similar services present these businesses as disruptive alternatives, promising a 21st-century democratization of social relations via market reform. As far as subletting apartments is concerned, though, historical precedent is clear that any equalization of housing accessibility will depend on public intervention to combat the accelerating unaffordability of goods.


Alexia Yates is the author of Selling Paris: Property and Commercial Culture in the Fin-de-siècle Capital (2015).


Children during the Holocaust: A one-day conference at Imperial War Museums North


The Centre for Jewish Studies and the Department of History, University of Manchester and IWM North (part of Imperial War Museums)

holocaust-childrenChildren interned at Auschwitz, January 1945. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

One-day conference


Wednesday 26 October 2016, 9.30am-4.00pm

Libeskind Rooms, IWM North

This conference will explore the experience of children in the Holocaust. Among the six million Jewish victims, as many as 1.5 million were children. Scholarship has grown considerably in this field in recent years, focussing among other things on how children were treated – sometimes having no chance of survival on account of their youth, sometimes being made to work in factories or slave labour camps, where they endured privations which shortened their lives or haunted them for life.   Many – trapped in ghettos and other places of confinement – played a key role in finding food for their families. A few kept diaries which have survived – providing intimate insights into the child’s perspective. Today – when so few adult survivors are still alive – it is the children’s perspective that we hear about – at memorial days and in schools. This workshop will bring together important scholars of the field to address what it was to be a Jewish child under Nazi occupation; what current scholarship is revealing and where future research may take us.


Teas and coffees available from 9.30am


10.00               Welcome and introduction to IWM North and the Conference

10.10              Ana Hajkova (Warwick), ‘Children in Terezin’

11.00               Tea and coffee               

11.15               Daniel Lee (Sheffield), ‘Pétain’s Jewish Children’

12.00               Simone Gigliotti (Royal Holloway), ‘Touring the stone wilderness: re-viewing David “Chim” Seymour’s Children of Europe 

12.45               Lunch 

1.45                 Leon Kammer in conversation 

2.30                 Bob Moore (Sheffield), ‘Suffer the Little Children… The rescue of Jewish Children in Nazi Occupied Western Europe’. 

3.15                 Tea and coffee 

3.30                 General Discussion 

4.00                End  

Academic programme organised by Dr Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Reader in Holocaust Studies, History Division, the University of Manchester

This conference is free, however you will be charged £10 for non-attendance to cover refreshments.

A buffet lunch is provided (Kosher and other dietary needs can be met if requested upon booking or by contacting no later than 14 October 2016).

Please note this programme may be subject to change.

Some Welcome Week reassurance…


Welcome week 2015

It’s Welcome Week again at the University of Manchester, and I have to admit that I’m excited about it in the same way I used to feel about Christmas as a kid. As a new(ish) lecturer — I’m entering my third year at the History department here — there is a certain amount of flapping that happens in the quest to get courses ready and rooms booked and timetables sorted, but at the same time I absolutely love meeting new students, getting to find out what aspects of History they’re interested in, and finding out what they’re hoping to achieve in their degrees. I’ve always thought it’s a great privilege to meet someone at a stage in their life when there are so many possibilities and opportunities, and work with them in teaching and developing key skills they will use to progress. And before this veers off into sounding too saccharine, I also enjoy the cheesy introducing yourself routines where everyone says who they are and talks about their favourite movie to break the ice, which offers me the chance to critique everyone’s taste in films (Jurassic Park is, in fact, the only correct answer). Soon, a new group of first-year undergraduates will arrive to meet us all and, as I have witnessed every year since I began my own BA degree in 2004, experience the whirlwind of those first few days of Uni life: sussing out timetables, making friends, trying to decide which Student Society to join, navigating a new city, and inevitably there may be the odd alcohol-fuelled evening that either goes well or does not. Thankfully, truly awful examples of such incidents seem to be increasingly rare as students are increasingly alert to (and unimpressed by) the dangers of drinking to excess; our own History Society has made sure to arrange movie nights and other evening events at which alcohol won’t feature so everyone is included and has a choice. As I say, students are a great group of people to get to work with.

But in the maelstrom of the next few weeks, I know that there will be some students who still end up feeling uncertain and isolated; who find the barrage of welcomes and activities overwhelming; and who suffer from ‘impostors syndrome’ — the feeling (extremely common, particularly among high achievers) that they don’t actually deserve to be there despite having the grades. And so, rather than simply bulk-post notices and images from Welcome Week that show everyone having a good time (although there will certainly be many of these!), I wanted to take a moment to recognise those slightly nervous students and offer some words of support. This is partly because I am Staff-Student Liaison officer this year, which carries the rather lovely responsibility of finding ways to enhance the student experience, support student initiatives and get staff involved, and help coordinate peer mentoring for first years. But it is also partly because I was that student. I have very vivid memories of feeling thoroughly anxious for the vast majority of my first term at University, which bore no reflection on the institution’s efforts to make me welcome. I was simply homesick, with no prior experience of living away from home and having left behind a very close-knit family and a group of friends that I cared deeply about. Also, I hadn’t fared as well in my ‘A’ levels as I had hoped and thus entered University through Clearing with some pretty fundamental questions about whether I deserved to be there. As the lecturer who offered me a place to study had said, attending a University of the calibre I had entered was a mark of recognition for my earlier grades and an opportunity that I must not waste — words that I later realised were meant kindly, but at the time formed part of the huge weight of pressure I was to place on myself to succeed.

Welcome Week (or Fresher’s Week as it was called when I began) was an experience I moved through with trepidation, not wanting to make the ‘wrong’ choices by committing to joining too many societies or none at all, and uncertain of the wisdom of attending evenings at the pub or Student’s Union when there would be a new round of information to negotiate the following day. Somewhat shy, it seemed enough of an achievement to find my way round the library (as anyone will tell you, I am terrible at directions with no sense of left or right — last year my ‘Library Tour’ for a class of first years ended up with them helping me find the way out!); and list off what I could actually cook (which I suddenly realised was an unappetising and concise set of meals, at the head of which were firmly written ‘fish-fingers’). I began casually eyeing-up what other hall-mates were cooking to get ideas. Thank goodness for pasta.

But that was ok. And if you are a new student and this turns out to be a not-dissimilar account of your own Welcome Week, that’s ok too. It IS a big achievement to live independently for what is most likely the first time, and although it’s fairly well-worn advice, if it takes you a while to suss out friends and activities that grab your interest that’s fine as well. Eventually, friendships will form and the work required to fulfil the expectations of a degree will become clear, though I know this latter knowledge may be something our students go back and forth on at times. We have a fantastically friendly body of students and lecturers, and if I could give new students one message it is to ask us if something is not clear or if guidance is needed, academically or otherwise. Your peer mentors are also there to help, with the added benefit of having been through it all very recently. But please don’t feel like a failure if your Welcome Week does not find you body-surfing across a cheering crowd of fellow-newcomers, or if you only attend the first meeting of the ballroom dancing society and then disappear after realising that a long-held daydream of tangoing to international stardom is actually going to remain just that. And if, particularly during those first few weeks, you’re having a genuinely bad time, please come into Uni and talk about it — either to your Academic Adviser or to me (contact details here).

Finally, I wish you a brilliant, exciting and wonderful start to your degree, and a happy Welcome Week! As a final note to my own trials and tribulations, clearly it turned out ok — I essentially went to study History at University and nine years (and a few more degrees and institutions) later I’m still happily obsessed by it with no desire to leave — in no small part thanks to the friends I made during that tricky first year, who remain my best friends to this day. On that note, it is worth mentioning that I was originally going to write this post as an assortment of historical experiences of Welcome Week, but in raking through numerous autobiographies of famous people chatting about their own experiences at University I began to realise that I only needed to draw briefly on this material to make an important point. What do Bear Grylls, Nelson Mandela, and Christabel Pankhurst have in common? Apparently, they all made life-long friendships during their first year of study.

With friends at my BA graduation, 2007:

emoss GRAD 2

Manchester’s Transnational Friendship with France: James Connolly discusses the ‘adoption’ of Mézières.

Connolly- Manchester-Meziers 2

The 1921 Lord Mayor’s pageant raising funds for Mézières. Image courtesy of Manchester Central Library:

My last post touched upon my recent side project on British towns adopting French towns and villages after the First World War. Here, I would like to briefly highlight how this transnational history also had a highly local and pertinent aspect for those of us working and studying at Manchester.   As last year’s exhibition in the Central Library demonstrated, our Manchester was involved in the adoption scheme from the outset, deciding in June 1920 to adopt not Lille but the town of Mézières in the Ardennes.[1]  The progress of this adopted was recorded in many newspaper articles.  In July 1921, a pageant was held for this cause, at which the Mayor of Mézières and the Conseiller-Général des Ardennes were present; it raised £5,000 – a lot of money for the time![2]  The following September, about 1,000 unemployed ex-servicemen from Manchester were sent to Mézières to help with reconstruction, paid at full French trade union rates, with the aid of the French Ministry of Labour.[3]  Fund-raising continued in various forms: in November 1921, a women’s football match between Lancashire and a London club took place in Manchester and raised £540.[4]  Sports played an important role in encouraging donations, thus the manager of the Manchester Hippodrome, Bertram Isles, awarded the Médaille de Reconnaissance (Medal of Gratitude) from Mézières in November 1922 for his part in raising £30,000 for the town.[5]


However, the link between these two towns was not purely financial, with frequent exchange visits of both local politicians and schoolchildren continuing throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1930, the Lord Mayor of Manchester had been invited, alongside other British mayors, to an event organised by the French President to offer official thanks for the adoption scheme.[6] British Pathé even filmed the Mayor of Mézières visiting Manchester in 1928 and the Mayor even got to meet the King and Queen when they visited Manchester in 1934.[7] Such was the strength of this transnational bond, and the extent of Manchester’s contribution to reconstruction, that there was an entire ‘Manchester’ district in Mézières. Readers of the Manchester Evening News were reminded of this in August 1939: there was a Manchester Hospital, Manchester Post Office, Manchester Church, and wards in the hospital were named after the ex-Lord Mayors of Manchester.[8]  Perhaps this was an attempt to reassure the British that, as a new war loomed on the horizon, the bonds forged in the wake of the last conflict still stood strong.  Even if that is the case, Manchester-Mézières was one of the most successful, enduring adoption pairings, with many buildings and place names in Mézières still bearing the marks of this Franco-British friendship: bringing this slice of history a little closer to home!




[1] Dundee Evening Telegraph, 14 June 1920, p.2.


[2] The Times, 4 July 1921, p.9.


[3] Dundee Evening Telegraph, 5 Sep 1921, p.2.


[4] Derby Daily Telegraph, 24 November 1921, p.3.


[5] The Era, 2 November 1922, p.16.


[6] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 27 May 1930, p.12.


[7] Dundee Courier, 18 July 1934, p.6.


[8] Manchester Evening News, 16 August 1939, p.8.


Transnational Friendship: James Connolly discusses British aid to French towns after the First World War

Connolly blog

British soldiers enter Lille in October 1918. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

During my research on the occupation of Northern France in the First World War, I came across archival and newspaper documents attesting to the depth of gratitude felt by the formerly-occupied population towards the British, and the latter’s desire to help suffering populations. As an Englishman specialising in French history, I was moved and intrigued to discover more about the ways in which the British helped what became known as the ‘devastated region’ – the area ravaged by combat and occupation – and what the French made of this. The conclusions I have arrived at say much about the long, complicated history of Franco-British friendship (often involving mutual mistrust and disappointment at a governmental level), and highlight a period in which the plight of suffering populations provoked charitable, humanitarian responses that went beyond national interest.


The most immediate and evident form of help was ending the occupation itself. This is a topic I will explore in my forthcoming monograph, and which I have discussed in less detail elsewhere (notably in an article for a French magazine and my PhD thesis). The British Fifth Army had liberated much of the département of the Nord in October 1918, including its capital, Lille. Its commander, General Birdwood, was made an honorary citizen of the town in late October, when an official liberation ceremony took place (you can see a video of this here). Later, a statue of Birdwood was erected, which still stands today alongside the ‘Square Birdwood’ – a monument to a long-forgotten liberation.


As is often the case, though, one occupation was followed by another: the British remained in the Nord for months, to the chagrin of certain locals who resented a continued military presence (openly complaining of a ‘new occupation’). However, a French military intelligence report from November 1918 sang the praises of the British Army, noting that for 38 days, with the French Army lacking resources, it was the British who fed the 790,000 inhabitants of the occupation zone, distributing a total of 5,084,000 civilian rations via free canteens. Empty trucks were also offered for the transport of refugees. The report estimated that this aid saved the lives of at least 400,000 French people, and concluded: ‘It is a wonderful act of systematic and ingenious charity that the British Army is carrying out […] For this great work, commanders and soldiers have the right to the deepest gratitude of France.’[1]


However, civilians got involved as well. In December 1918, the Corporation of Manchester sent Lille (the ‘Manchester of France’) a Christmas tree, plus £500 for gifts for local children.[2] This sentiment eventually morphed into an official act of charity: in June 1920, an organisation was created to facilitate and oversee British towns ‘adopting’ French towns and villages in the ‘devastated region’. That organisation was the British League of Help for the Devastated Regions of France, which became an official war charity the following year. By the time the League of Help officially wound down in 1927, almost 80 British towns had adopted over 90 French towns or villages. The so-called ‘Godparent’ towns sent hundreds of thousands of pounds of aid to their ‘Godchildren’ to finance reconstruction, from water supplies and bridges to schools and hospitals.[3]  Money was raised via voluntary donations or fund-raising events, such as the special Wimbledon tennis tournament in July 1922. Buildings, roads, or local areas were often adorned with commemorative plaques, or named in honour of ‘Godparent’ towns and sometimes ‘Godchildren’ ones (such as the Pont Blackburn in Péronne, and Péronne Crescent in Blackburn). Aid also comprised sending goods such as agricultural equipment, seeds, clothes, or tools, as well as exchange visits between civic representatives and even schoolchildren. Such community bonds were a key aim of the League, and continued in some cases into the 1930s. Many people participated in the movement, whether as members of local adoption committees or by simply donating, but the precise number cannot be calculated. That said, this was not an unreserved success story: for instance, London had adopted Verdun in December 1920 and promised to raise £100,000, but by mid-1922 only £20,000 had been raised despite high-profile fund-raising visits from Prime Ministers (including Poincaré) and Marshal Pétain.[4] Nevertheless, this relief effort occurred during a period of strained official Franco-British relations, largely due to disagreements on how best to deal with Germany and maintain the peace, which makes it even more interesting. It also fits within recent work on the aftermath of the First World War as a significant period for the development of British humanitarianism.[5]


The history of the League and post-war British aid to French towns has largely been forgotten. Few academic works deal with this subject,[6] partly because there is very little archival documentation. I have recently attempted to overcome this difficulty and add to the literature by examining the way the British press portrayed the adoption scheme (spoiler alert: newspapers were very supportive and interested!). The result is a chapter in a forthcoming book on European ‘town twinnings,’ a post-1945 phenomenon for which inter-war adoptions set a precedent. This chapter will appear (translated into German) later this year with the provisional title „Alliierte“ über den Krieg hinaus: Britische Zeitungen und „Patenschaften“ französischer Städte nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg. However, I hope to return to this topic in English in the near future, as there is more to be said and discovered, another layer to be added to the tableau of Franco-British relations and friendship, plus British humanitarianism and charity – an important topic to consider given current global events.



[1] Service Historique de la Défense, 17 N 394, Rapport sur l’aide apportée par les troupes britanniques à la population libérée pendant l’avance du 1er Oct. au 25 Nov. 1918, p.12-13.


[2] The Times, 21 December 1918, p.7.


[3] See Bryan F. Lewis, ‘Adoptive Kinship and the British League of Help: Commemoration of the Great War through the Adoption of French Communities’ (PhD thesis: University of Reading, 2006).


[4] Daily Telegraph, 12 June 1922, p.12.


[5] See Emily C. Baughan, ‘“Every Citizen of Empire Implored to Save the Children!” Empire, internationalism and the Save the Children Fund in inter-war Britain,’ Historical Research 86:231 (February 2013), pp.116-137. My thanks to Dr Laure Humbert for suggesting this source.


[6] See Lewis, ‘Adoptive Kinship’; Brian S. Osborne, ‘In the Shadows of Monuments: the British League for the Reconstruction of the Devastated Areas of France,’ International Journal of Heritage Studies 7:1 (2001), pp.59-82; Sally White, Worthing, ‘Richebourg and the League of Help for the Devastated Areas of France: The Rediscovery of an Adoption,’ Sussex Archaeological Collections 140 (2002), pp.125-38.


‘A Unique Site of Major Historical Importance’: Hannah Barker discusses the restoration of Quarry Bank Mill

Being a Historical Advisor for the National Trust


I’m currently one of two members of History staff who are working with the National Trust as Historical Advisors. Whilst Sasha Handley is involved at Little Moreton Hall in Staffordshire (having previously collaborated with staff at Ham House), I am working with the Trust at Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire. Quarry Bank is a unique site of major historical importance. Built in the late eighteenth century, at the start of the industrial revolution, it incorporates a large cotton mill, a farm, an entire village purpose-built to house the mill workforce and the homes and workplaces of the owner, mill manager and apprentices. Few, if any other sites of comparable significance are as complete or as untouched.


Quarry Bank Mill


I’m part of a team at Quarry Bank working on a £9.4 million expansion and (re)interpretation project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust.

This project started at the end of last year and will be completed by 2019. It includes the restoration and opening of a worker’s cottage and the village shop in Styal Village, opening Quarry Bank House to the public (the former home of the Greg family who owned the mill), the restoration of Quarry Bank garden and glasshouse, and improving access around the site with a new network of paths and roads, and car park.

For me, this collaboration offers the opportunity to use my research on the early industrial revolution, and on work, buildings and the use of space during this period in particular, to inform and shape a major public history initiative. But most of all, it provides an exciting change from my usual activities as an academic, and challenges me to think in new ways and to explore different ways of working as part of a team of curators, interpretation and programming specialists.


Apprentice House, Quarry Bank

One of my first tasks at Quarry Bank involved the reinterpretation of a building already open to the public: the Apprentice House. One of the things I want to do here is to give visitors a clearer sense of what it was like from the point of view of the original occupants: that is, the child workers. For me, the house as it is currently presented is too airy, too roomy and far too quiet. And more than this, it gives very little sense of the individual children who have lived here. We are planning to turn the quiet, still spaces within Apprentice House into something that gives more of a sense of their earlier, noisier, smellier and more cramped past, when the house was full of children.

One way that we are planning to achieve this transformation is by examining the material culture of the apprentices. We will be introducing apprentices’ boxes into the main girls’ dormitory, and by doing so, telling the individual children’s stories. These boxes would have been common amongst servants and other mobile employees in the eighteenth century, and would have been used to both transport one’s possessions and to keep them safe. From surviving records in the Quarry Bank archive we do know that it was likely that each apprentice had at least two sets of clothes, and that they sometimes borrowed money from their employer to buy other items, such as a new gown, shoes, a sliding rule, a flute and even a watch. Recreating some of these possessions, and the boxes in which they were kept, alongside providing details of the lives of their owners, will give us a much stronger sense of these children’s experiences working and living at Quarry Bank. I hope it will help visitors to feel a closer connection with these child workers and to develop a clearer sense of what being an apprentice at the mill would have been like.


Number 13, Oak Cottages: the pickled cottage

Since planning the reinterpretation of the Apprentice House, I’ve also been looking at the worker’s cottages. One of the buildings at Quarry Bank that will be newly open to the public after 2019 will be 13 Oak Cottages. It’s known locally as the Pickled cottage, because it has been literally pickled and left untouched and unaltered (and empty) since around the 1960s, if not earlier. It was built sometime during the 1820s, when the Gregs started the rapid expansion of the village to house its growing workforce. We can trace the occupants of the cottage from at least 1841, if not earlier, and know that the small, two-up-two-downs would have housed large families and mixed households, including lodgers, with others living in the cellar.

In thinking about how we present this cottage to visitors, we can obviously talk about who lived here, but I also want to give visitors a sense as well of what it was like to live here and can draw on my own research on the use of domestic space in smaller trading households in towns such as Manchester and Liverpool during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to achieve this. Living in such small spaces was not simple, and the ways in which inhabitants would have shared their living space contradicts both traditional historical models of growing domestic privacy during the eighteenth century, and our own modern ideas about privacy and space.



Front room, ground floor, 13 Oak Cottages

For those who lived at number 13, restrictions on the size of living accommodation made many of the formal distinctions of space that we are used to unlikely. This means that we can’t assume that people applied single uses to different rooms as we do today – thus it seems quite possible that inhabitants would sleep and sit and socialize and cook and eat in the room we might think of as the front room on the ground floor, whilst the back room might have been a form of kitchen (though without running water). It is also likely that unrelated individuals would have shared bedrooms, and probably beds. Whilst we might baulk at such ideas – not just sleeping in a room in which food is prepared and eaten, but especially bed-sharing – it is clear that company and physical proximity were often more highly prized in the early nineteenth century than was a more modern understanding of privacy (especially if it was cold). And we know, of course, that any workers who had come from the Apprentice House would have been used to sharing beds with others, whilst in a period when large families were the norm, sharing beds with siblings would have been standard.


The cellar at 13 Oak cottages

But this doesn’t mean that privacy wasn’t important in terms of upholding certain standards of respectability. The separation of the sexes to preserve modesty and to prevent inappropriate sexual relations – especially between men and women who weren’t related or married – would have been important. Although men and women appear not to have been generally segregated in terms of daily activities during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, there were clearly exceptions to this rule where sexual impropriety or modesty were concerned: such as mending undergarments, washing and not engaging in illicit sexual behaviour. I hope that by exploring some of these issues, we will get a clearer sense of what life was like for the workers at the mill. With any luck future visitors will find the stories that we tell in our interpretation of the pickled cottage as interesting as I am finding my role as a historical advisor. For more information, go to and