Tue, 1 Dec 2020
Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford.
Doctoral work in East African history at Cambridge in the 1970s, and Masters Degree in Economics at the LSE in the 1980s. Came to Oxford as Secretary to the Continuing Education Board in 2002 after a career in the Civil Service (Defence and Treasury) and in the regulation of commercial broadcasting. Has also worked in the University’s Education Committee Secretariat and on policy on undergraduate admissions. He teaches weekly classes for the department on modern British history and politics, summer schools, and supplies a special subject on propaganda for the Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies. He also supervises dissertations for the Masters in Historical Studies. He is editor of the John Buchan Journal and a member of the Council of the John Buchan Society. Other interests include local archaeology and history, narrow-boating and cookery. He is married with three sons, aged 19-25, and lives in Henley-on-Thames.
About the lecture:
Henley was late in acquiring modern clean water and sewage disposal systems. There were serious technical issues to be overcome, and the issue of how a small and economically backward town could afford the new infrastructure held back progress until the end of the 1880s. But Henley’s identity as a resort centre with its annual regatta, and the possibility that any hint of inadequate sanitation might wipe out this source of prosperity overnight, sharpened minds in the search for a solution as the borough slipped ever further behind. Speculative builders who were eager to ride the tide of Victorian prosperity by putting up new suburbs tried to commit the town to expensive solutions at the expense of poorer ratepayers. This exposed the tensions of class and politics in the Victorian town.
The search for clean water and the effective disposal of waste is not on the face of it a glamorous subject. But we will see how it was central to Henley’s emergence as a modern town in the late nineteenth century – to its public life, the timing of its physical growth and economic development, its self-identity, and the emergence of its local heroes.