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My research is currently focused on the development of municipal parks in British cities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am interested in the application of concepts such as social responsibility and citizenship in the parks and in how park visitors made use of the facilities in ways that were often unintended and anti-thetical to the intentions of the City Councils who owned them.
I am also interested in how local newspapers reported the policies and decision made by City Councils in respect of parks and leisure space management and the tensions evident in how parks were used at this time. The relationship between local newspapers and local authorities interests me enormously as does the contribution of the local newspaper to the development of the urban landscape and city life in the early twentieth century.
I have been contracted by Routledge to write a book entitled The Greening of the City: Urban Parks and Public Culture 1840 - 1940 to be published in the series Studies in Cultural History in 2015. This book aims to unite the two research themes outlined above to study the impact of public culture on the circumstances in which urban parks and public leisure developed in a range of British towns and cities.
My thesis explored the acquisition of Heaton Park by Manchester City Council in 1901 and demonstrated that the Edwardian municipal park represented a move away from the Victorian gospel of 'rational recreation' to emphasise social responsibility and citizenship. The emphasis was the use of local newspapers in the campaign for the park and the emergence of a discourse around public recreation and leisure.
I have been invited to join the committee
I was invited to attend the third Colloquium on Civic Culture held at the University of Huddersfield to allow researchers working on this area to meet and exhange ideas with colleagues from British and Irish universities.