Pete Bounous

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Reasons to Remember: Commemorating the Great and the Good in Late Victorian Birmingham
Supervisor: Dr Malcolm Dick
PhD History


  • MA West Midlands History (Distinction), University of Birmingham
  • BEd (Hons.) Education and Mathematics, University of Birmingham


I have worked as a primary school teacher for 24 years and, despite graduating in Mathematics, quickly found refuge in the teaching of History. After many, many years of trying to squeeze the subject into most of my other lessons, I decided to do things properly and completed an MA in West Midlands History. The course was an extremely stimulating and rewarding endeavour and engendered in me a strong desire to pursue my studies further, due in no small part to the excellent support and enthusiasm of the course leader, Dr Malcolm Dick. Consequently. I am now nearing the completion of a PhD examining the motives for material commemoration in later nineteenth-century Birmingham.

Besides the subject of my PhD, my other research interests include pre-twentieth-century architecture, the history of business institutions, historical maps and the relationship between warfare and society.


  • Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, 2018/2019, University of Birmingham, Department of History for modules War and Society and The British Economy Since 1850: Theory, Policy and the Global Challenge
  • Primary School Supply Teacher, 2010 – present
  • Primary School Teacher, 1997 – 2010


It is no exaggeration to say that, at the time of writing, material commemoration is under very real attack by those who neglect to acknowledge the true historical value of that which they seek to cast down.  Statues and memorials are most definitely more than simple physical commemorations: they are cultural barometers. Their subject, design, location, size and even longevity are all direct reflections of the socio-political currents that shape their surroundings, both at the time of their creation and – through their subsequent treatment – far beyond. In this way, if read carefully, they are an invaluable chronicle of the very evolution of ourselves as a society.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Birmingham was a veritable treasure trove of such commemoration with a wealth of statues, monuments, architecture, street names and other memorials all ostensibly intended to pay tribute to ‘the great and the good’ of the city. My work, however, will argue that such charitable sentiments were rarely the sole or even main motive for the creation of these grand gestures. Through a series of local cases studies, my research seeks to unearth the less-than-altruistic motives behind these memorials and to consider what this subsequently reveals about the society, economy, culture and politics of nineteenth-century Birmingham.

Other activities

  • Committee member of the University of Birmingham’s Friends of the Centre for West Midlands History.
  • Regular contributor to History West Midlands magazine, reviewer, writer and image editor. Also, guest editor for issue 4, focusing on Joseph Chamberlain and the politics of later nineteenth-century Birmingham.
  • Research papers given on memorials to Victorian Birmingham MP John Bright, Birmingham Mayor Joseph Chamberlain and Birmingham Conservative parliamentary candidate Colonel Frederick Burnaby. Talks also given on John Pigott Smith and his 1828 map of Birmingham and on the birth and evolution of the city of Birmingham.
  • Team member of the joint Nottingham University and Nottingham Museum project From Nemi to Nottingham: In the Footsteps of Fundilia, producing digital materials to support an exhibition of finds from the 1885 excavation of the Sanctuary of Diana, Lake Nemi, Italy.
  • Participant in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Quaker Mapping Project, unearthing Quaker connections to existing museum holdings.


  • 200 Years: Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (2013, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce) unpublished.
  • Smith, John Pigott (1798–1861), surveyor Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2013, Oxford University Press). 
  • A street map of Birmingham, 1828 (2012, Old House Books).
  • Bright for Birmingham? A Reassessment of the Popularity of John Bright as M.P. for Birmingham, 1857-1889 (2011) unpublished MA dissertation.
  • Numerous articles and book reviews for publications including History West Midlands magazine and the Economic History Review journal.