Thomas Allen

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

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PhD title: Space, Segmentation and Civic & Regional Identity in Edwardian Birmingham 
SupervisorProfessor Matthew Houlbrook and Professor Nicholas Crowson
PhD History


My current research focusses on how cities presented themselves as beacons of civic twentieth century enlightenment. Whether this statement is accurate is largely irrelevant in this study as it is more concerned with the imagery the cities elite utilised to present the city in the most positive manner. This image was then deployed in a variety of formats through a range of sources including newspapers and urban biographies. The range of sources used meant that the majority of the Birmingham population were subject to at least some form of this propaganda. How they responded to this and either accepted the civic elite’s vision of the city or attempted to forge their own Birmingham is the main area of research. If the sense of working class radicalism continued and the workers were able to project their ideal city back then the battle for the space and image of the city became of great importance for the control of these images. These spaces were a variety of disparate locations across the urban environment and not solely contained within the municipal halls of power.

My research is based around the growth and continued expected growth of cultural history, its relation to the urban environment and influence in determining who had authority in the city. In doing this it hopes to show the frailty of existing theories on the relationships between the civic elite and the ruled.