Dr Brookes is an historian by training. Having spent most of her academic life studying in the North West she returned to her home city of Birmingham where she became involved in medical research. She lives with her partner Martyn and their goldfish!
PhD in History, University of Manchester, 2005
M.A. in Industrial Heritage, University of Birmingham, 2000
2.1 B.A. (Hons) History, Bolton University, 1997
Dr Brookes’ undergraduate studies at Bolton concentrated on British industrial history during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly that relating to the Lancashire textile trade and the Midlands metal industries.
Her interest in this aspect of historical research led her to pursue an ERSF funded Masters degree in Industrial Heritage at the Ironbridge Institute. She completed the course whilst also undertaking voluntary work as a researcher at Birmingham’s Soho House Museum.
The M.A. encouraged her to explore the impact of buildings and working environments upon the development and decline of industry, and also in more of a social context than the economic bias of her B.A. Amongst other topics the M.A. gave her the opportunity to evaluate a leather industry museum, part of which involved the investigation of occupational illnesses amongst leather industry employees.
The subject matter of Victoria’s PhD (‘Gender, Class and Identity: Cotton Workers in Oldham and Bolton, 1920-1950.’) represented a natural progression within the field of industrial history. She utilised a variety of sources including trade union and employers’ association archives, business records, official government papers, newspapers, oral accounts and pictorial evidence. Her thesis is organised into five chapters: Labour Shortages and Domestic Recruitment; Labour Shortages and Overseas Recruitment; Working Conditions; Occupational Health; and Factory Discipline. The theme that runs throughout is the idea that men’s and women’s experiences in the cotton mills, and their relationship with colleagues, was not only linked to economic uncertainty and government and employer policy, but was also closely connected to established and changing perceptions of class, gender and identity at work.
In a round about way this led to Victoria becoming involved in more modern medical research, firstly with the ProtecT Study which involved the analysis of modern medical records, and later as a trial co-ordinator on childhood obesity prevention research. Victoria now trial co-ordinates a study looking at diagnosis techniques for bladder overactivity.
Dr Brookes currently works for the University of Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit as a Trial Co-ordinator on the BUS Study (Accuracy of Bladder Ultrasound Study), a multicentre diagnostic trial which is recruiting 600 patients over 3 years.
During this period Dr Brookes was working for the International Centre for Circulatory Health at Imperial College London, on the RATIONAL HEALTH Study (Reducing HeArt Disease, Stroke and Diabetes Through ObesIty PreventioN in Children: A SchooL Based Community HEALTH Programme) and prior to this the University of Birmingham on an NPRI funded BEACHeS (Birmingham Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyle in Children Study) Project. She co-ordinated a healthy lifestyle intervention programme based in West Midlands Primary Schools and their communities.
Dr Brookes worked for the University of Sheffield as a Research Associate on a joint Cancer Research-UK and Department of Health funded study to evaluate the potential impact of screening for prostate cancer in the UK. This was a multi-centred project based at Bristol University and she was responsible for establishing, maintaining and winding down the Comparison Arm (CaP) of the ProtecT Study (Prostate testing for cancer and treatment) at Birmingham’s University Hospital.
Dr Brookes graduated with a degree in history from Bolton University in 1997. She then went on to complete a Masters Degree in Industrial Heritage at the University of Birmingham in 2000, concentrating upon research into the occupational and public health issues surrounding the built environment. She then embarked upon a PhD at the University of Manchester in 2001 investigating cotton mill workers in Bolton and Oldham during the Second World War, particularly focusing upon the health problems experienced as part of their working lives.
Brookes, V. (2001) ‘The Effects of the Public Health Movement on Walsall and District, 1830-1960’ The Blackcountryman journal (vol.35, no.1, pp.39-44).
Brookes, V. (2002) ‘The History and Heritage of the Optical Industry in Smethwick and Walsall’ The Blackcountryman journal (vol.35, no.2, pp.61-65).
Brookes, V. (2006) ‘Welfare in the Lancashire Cotton Mills in the 1940s’ International Journal of Epidemiology photoessay (35:266–269).
Brookes, V. (2007) ‘Birmingham Healthy Eating and Active lifestyle for Children Study’ Health Education Journal (Birmingham Health Education Service, Autumn, p.52)
Brookes, V. (2009) ‘Birmingham Healthy Eating and Active lifestyle for Children Study’ Health Education Journal (Birmingham Health Education Service, Summer, p.49).