CENTRE FOR WORKTOWN STUDIES
The Centre for Worktown Studies undertakes and supports academic research and public engagement activities 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 Centre for Worktown Studies undertakes and supports academic research and public engagement activities 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 Spender Worktown photographs were produced as a source of documentary evidence for 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 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. We are happy to meet and work with other researchers interested in Mass Observation’s Worktown.
Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by Tom Harrisson, Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings with the objective of enabling an ‘anthropology of ourselves’. Harrisson and Madge established a small observation team in Bolton, or ‘Worktown’, with the intention of observing and recording everyday life in a northern industrial town. The focus of interest was the working class population and as Harrisson was later to note, ‘nearly everybody who was not born into the working class regarded them as almost a race apart’. The Bolton team comprised a small number of full time observers and also recruited local people, amongst them Bill Naughton (at that time a lorry-driver), – as helpers. Harrisson invited Humphrey Spender, who had been working as a photographer for the Daily Mirror, to join the Worktown team with a brief was to take candid photographs of people and situations to accompany the written records of the observation team. These photographs can be viewed on-line on Bolton Museum’s ‘Humphrey Spender’s Worktown’ at http://boltonworktown.co.uk/
Recording Leisure Lives : ‘Cultures, Communities & Class in 20th Century Britain’
27th March 2018
A Tenth Anniversary One Day Conference at the University of Bolton, presented by the University of Bolton and University Centre at Blackburn College
The Centre for Worktown Studies invites you to its tenth annual Recording Leisure Lives conference on 27th March 2018. The theme of the conference is intended to provoke discussion and debate on the social and cultural contexts of leisure in twentieth century Britain. In particular it aims to explore ideas and meanings of culture, community and class in the context of leisure. In terms of we are particularly interested in, for example, cultural hierarchies, mass culture, religion, politics and radicalism in leisure. We remain open, however, to other interpretations. The theme of community implies both spatial communities and also clubs, voluntary associations, hobby societies, civic groups, play groups and national regional and neighbourhood leisure organizations. In terms of class we hope to receive papers based around themes of socio-economic divisions, a leisure class, and other socio-historical constructions of class.
It is neither expected nor necessary that papers should cover all three strands. There will also be an open stream for general papers on leisure in 20th century Britain.
Keynote speakers include Martin Johnes, (University of Swansea) author of Christmas and the British: A Modern History and Carolyn Downs (University of Lancaster), author of A Social, Economic and Cultural History of Bingo (1906-2005): the Role of Gambling in the Lives of Working Women.
Please submit paper proposals [20 minutes] to email@example.com by 19th January 2018
Bookings: Please complete and return the Booking Form. For further details please contact Bob Snape, firstname.lastname@example.org or Bethan Atkins ku.ca1519417480.notl1519417480ob@sn1519417480iktA.1519417480B1519417480
Jerome’s interest in Worktown followed the discovery of the research that Harrison and his team did on Happiness, a topic currently of major interest. The Worktown researchers were the first to begin to establish a science of Happiness, though they would not have been aware of this at the time. Along with Sandie McHugh, Jerome, Ian Platt and others have replicated the original Worktown Happiness Surveys. Along with Sandie and the Bolton News, we re-ran the original 1938 Survey, as well as providing material for a series of articles on Happiness. Additionally Jerome is interested in Positive Psychology, recovery and wellbeing.
She recently joined Professor Jerome Carson as part of the Psychology representation on the Centre for Work town Studies pursuing her interest in Cultural and Positive Psychology. Sandie originally studied social and economic history and became interested in applied psychology during a civil service and sports performance career. She has been involved in a series of research projects in the University’s Household Financial Decision Making Section and a co-author in 6 published papers.
In 2014 Sandie and Jerome in collaboration with “The Bolton News” re ran the 1938 Mass Observation Competition – What Makes You Happy?