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All enquiries related to the Centre for Worktown Studies should be addressed to:

Dr Bob Snape

Centre for Worktown Studies
University of Bolton
Deane Road


Tel. 01204 903609

The Centre for Worktown Studies was established in 2009 to undertake and promote academic research activity around the Humphrey Spender 'Worktown' collection of documentary photographs produced for Mass Observation in the late nineteen-thirties. This collection is held by Bolton Museum and the Centre is jointly established and managed by the University and Bolton Museum and Archive Service.


The origins of the Spender Collection lie in Mass Observation's 'Worktown' project which aimed to investigate and document everyday life in a northern industrial town. A Mass Observation team was established in Bolton in 1937 to produce a detailed written and photographic record of everyday life in Worktown. 

The written records of this project are now held at the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex.

The Spender Collection, which comprises approximately 800 images taken in Bolton (and Blackpool as the Mass Observation team travelled there to observe 'Worktowners' on holiday) remains in Bolton Museum` and is a social documentary photographic archive of national and international significance.

The Centre has been designated a Good Practice Case Study of HEI-Museum collaboration by Renaissance North West.

In collaboration with University Centre at Blackburn College and the Leisure Studies Association