Duncan Frankis

Department of History
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

PhD Title: The History of the Metals Industry in Birmingham and the Black Country c.1700 to c.1850
Supervisor: Dr Malcolm Dick
Phd History

Biography

I completed both my Undergraduate and Master’s degrees in History at Aberystwyth University. Despite being offered a PhD at Aberystwyth, I decided to begin working for a small international development charity based in south London, from where I was sent to Honduras to conduct research for a women’s rights co-operative and credit union. After two years in the charity sector I decided to return to academia. As I had grown up in the Black Country I wanted to focus my research on the often overlooked history of the West Midlands. With the support of Dr Malcolm Dick I was able to secure funding for a PhD based on the ‘The History of the Metals Industry in Birmingham and the Black Country c.1700 to c.1850’ and have just completed my first year of study.

Research

The broad title I was given to work with was ‘The History of the Metals Industry in Birmingham and the Black Country c.1700 to c.1850’. From there I have begun to narrow down my research to the rise and significance of the Birmingham brass industry. Despite being one of the most important industries regionally, and nationally, it has received very little academic study.  Its uses were wide ranging: from the decoration of ornate buttons during the restoration of Charles II, to the making of chains in the slave trade and the sheathing of ships for many of the most powerful European navies. The rise of the Brass Industry was extraordinary and had far reaching social influences. This study aims to explore the complicated relationship between the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution through the ingenious savants and skilled fabricants of the Birmingham brass industry.