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:
- Series on so-called “slums” of the Victorian Black Country summed up here
- Irish immigration history and its modern context, and a series on Irish migration to the Black Country
- Maps and how they mess with your head
- Henri Lefebvre and ‘social space’. [Lefebvre’s ideas as laid out in The Production Of Space (1974) form the theoretical backbone to my research]
- My posts on the BAVS research blog: Wolverhampton and the urban text; and Maps, Modernity & False Economies
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.