'Tramps' Tales: Discovering the history of homelessness in Britain

Arts Building - Lecture Room 3
Monday 5 June 2017 (18:00-19:30)

Nicholas Crowson is Professor of Contemporary British History at the University of Birmingham.

His areas of interest include homelessness,social activism and modern British politics. Previous publications include The Politics of Expertise: How NGOs Shaped Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2013) and The Longman Companion to the Conservative Party since 1830 (Longman, 2001). He also co-created the Database on the Archives of UK Non-Governmental Organisations since 1945 (DANGO), a research tool to enable researchers to identify the archives of NGOs.


In December 1896, Tramp, Alfred D., appeared before magistrates at Leicester Castle, accused under the 1824 Vagrancy Act of begging alms. Beyond a name no clues exists as to who Alfred D. was, or from where he originated. He was nothing more than a criminal statistic. The judicial system felt no need to understand, or explain, how or why Alfred D., found himself to be begging.

In this lecture, Professor Crowson will show how it has now become possible to trace the life stories of individual vagrants such as Alfred D., and in doing so will be able to cast light upon a forgotten section of society showing not only whom these people were, but where they moved about the country and importantly explaining why they were in this predicament between late Victorian times and the inter-war years.

'Tramps' Tales: Discovering the history of homelessness in Britain

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities