My name is Simon Briercliffe, and I’m a social and cultural historian and geographer. I completed an MA in urban geography at King’s College, London in 2010 and came out of that with the realisation that not only does history not mean much without geography, but that geography doesn’t mean a lot without history. Every place is a product of its many overlapping histories. In 2014 I began a part-time PhD at the University of Birmingham with a working title of “The Stafford Street area of Wolverhampton c.1800-1871: space, demography and ethnicity,” researching lives in poverty in the Victorian Black Country – particularly those in a small part Wolverhampton which became labelled its ‘Irish Quarter.’ I am also a historical researcher at the wonderful Black Country Living Museum, where I study all sorts of aspects of Black Country society in the last 300 years.
I have worked with several Heritage Lottery Funded projects in the West Midlands and can offer historical context, research and advice, from the application stage right through to conducting research and disseminating it. Most recently, for instance, I have provided research for the HLF-funded Second Generation Stories oral history project and exhibition, and was employed as a researcher by Black Country Living Museum on their £23m Forging Ahead project since 2016.
I am an experienced writer and public speaker too. I have been writing for publications for many years (as well as spending about half my life writing 80,000 word thesis), and my first book – Forging Ahead: Austerity to Prosperity in the Black Country 1945-1968 – is now available. I am also happy to come to talk to your local history society or any other kind of community group. I have appeared on ITV Midlands Today, BBC WM, and Black Country Radio, and my research has been profiled in the Irish Post and Express & Star.
I can offer historical consultancy, research and talks on a range of social and cultural history subjects from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries:
- Urban space
- History and experience of poverty
- Immigration into and around Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
- Housing history
- History of the West Midlands
- Historical mapping and GIS
My particular love is the social history of the Black Country and its people, from the women chainmakers of Cradley Heath to the Punjabi foundrymen of 1960s Smethwick; from the Irish famine emigrants of 1847 to the changing face of the canals; from its public health provision to its industrial organisation to its criminal past. I have provided research and advice for television too, including ITV’s Long Lost Families and Who Do You Think You Are in the UK and USA.
If you are looking for advice or research on houses, families, companies or social groups, for archival or oral history research, please get in touch.