About me

Caribee Island, Wolverhampton - the focus of my research. Picture and more information here: http://www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk/people/migration/irish/caribee
Coles Croft,  one of the streets in the area that became known as Carribee Island, Wolverhampton – the focus of my research. Picture and more information here: http://www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk/people/migration/irish/caribee

My name is Simon Briercliffe, and I’m a historian and geographer. After being convinced that a life in university administration is perhaps not the most fulfilling thing one can do, I took an MA in urban geography at King’s College, London in 2009/10. I came out of that with the realisation that not only does history not mean much without geography, but that geography – particularly human geography – doesn’t mean a lot without history. Every place is a product of its past, and apparently I find it all fascinating, so much so that 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.” So: if you have any interest at all in: the history of the Black Country; Wolverhampton; working-class housing; slums; nineteenth-century social history; space, place and landscape history; immigration history, particularly Irish to England; or anything else really, do get in touch.


I’ve written quite a bit on this blog about my research and the things I’m interested in:


I have worked with, and for, several Heritage Lottery Funded projects in the West Midlands and can offer historical context, research and advice for the application process.

I am available as a freelance historical researcher for a range of projects. I can offer historical research and writing for history projects – for example, I have recently been providing research for both the Black Country Living Museum’s Forging Ahead and the Second Generation Stories oral history project and exhibition.

I am also available for other historical research: if you are looking someone to research the history of your family, house, or company; to conduct archival research; or to record oral histories; please get in touch for a quote. I am based in the West Midlands but can travel depending on your requirements.


I am very happy to come to talk to your local history society or any other kind of community group. I can talk about a range of topics but in particular I enjoy talking about (and learning from you as well!) the Black Country:

  • Carribee Island – Wolverhampton’s poorest and most notorious neighbourhood
  • Immigration into the Black Country, from the earliest days through to today
  • The history of houses – why they’re there, why they were built
  • All aspects of the Black Country in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s


I am an experienced writer and have been writing for publications for many years (as well as spending about half my life writing 80,000 word thesis). I am happy to talk to you about writing anything from newspaper articles to company or community histories.

Email me via Gmail
Twitter me @sbriercliffe
Academia My (sparse) profile
Linked In my profile



6 Replies to “About me”

  1. Hi, I have been waiting for some info on the Cracker for ages. As I recall, it was the actual limestone extraction plant that was called the Cracker. My Grandfather had a haulage business and he used to take me there in the 1960’s to collect loads, presumably of limestone. I can still recall the noise of rotating barrels which, again, were presumably sorting the various sizes of stone. I can also recall a small truck on rails being lowered into an entrance of some sort (a shaft?)and being pulled out full of limestone which was then tipped into the plant which seemed to tower above. So my recollection is that it was the plant that was called the Cracker but, of course, that may not be true. I think you can actually view it on the website Britain from Above. If you need any further info or thoughts from me, please contact me.


  2. Good work – thanks for sharing – I found you when searching for Pump Street, New Village, Bilston 1873 – birth place of my husband’s grandfather James Churm. After reading about the belated introduction of sewerage systems for Bilston I am guessing Pump Street was place of a communal water pump in a new estate – can’t find any references to it.
    It’s incredible that any baby born into these conditions survived and lived to follow Dad down pit. I don’t think washing hands was a regular thing. Poor baby James learning to crawl….
    Doing family tree has shown that living in a slum was common for the commoners. The Churms came from agricultural labouring in the green and pleasant Salop to Bilston. So did they build a workers paradise in the New Village?


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