Professor Paul Ward

Head of the Department of English, History and Creative Writing

Professor of Public History and Community Heritage

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


I am Professor of Public History and Community Heritage and Head of the Department of English, History and Creative Writing. I joined Edge Hill in 2018. I am committed, in my research and teaching, to social justice and community development.

My research is concerned with national identities in the United Kingdom since the late nineteenth century. In particular, I am well known for my historical study of Britishness since 1870.

I am interested in public history and the co-production of historical knowledge, especially the ways in which communities think about their histories. I was a lead co-investigator on Imagine: Connecting Communities Through Research a 5-year ESRC-AHRC funded project (2013-2018) under the Connected Communities Civic Engagement call. This was a major project involving ten universities and more than thirty community organisations. The project website is at

I have worked with a range of partners including grassroots organisations that explore the diversity of British culture and history. Examples of these partners include:

My current research explores aspects of Black British History, including sound systems and reggae, ethnic diversity in history making, and the methodology of the co-production of historical research.

I believe that the university’s knowledge and skills should be shared with the public and I am happy to provide professional advice related to my research and teaching interests, especially to community organisations. I have worked with colleagues, students and museum professionals to deliver a permanent exhibition on local mill heritage at Brooke’s Mill, Armitage Bridge, as well as a temporary exhibition on royal visits to Yorkshire at the Colne Valley Museum. In 2012, I compiled a report on Britishness for the office the Agent General of the Government of South Australia to encourage migration to Adelaide.

I can provide oral history training for community groups and students and am happy to provide advice and support for community history projects, including project design and management, interviewing, audio editing and exhibitions.

Previously I was professor of modern British history at the University of Huddersfield. I was also visiting lecturer at the University of A Coruña in Spain in the spring of 2004, and Fulbright-Robertson Professor of British History at Westminster College, Missouri, 2004 to 2005.


I seek to encourage research-led and -informed teaching so that students share in the creation of knowledge. I have experience of developing regional and local cultural and heritage partnerships for the benefit of the student experience and the curriculum, as well as research and impact. I have worked with the Imperial War Museum North, Leeds Museums and Galleries, The Hepworth Wakefield and many others – including local museums where the impact of student support can be extensive, while also equipping students with skills for employability.

I have published a number of research outputs with students including ‘Witness Seminar: Anti-Fascism in 1970s Huddersfield’, Contemporary British History, 20 (2006), pp. 119–133 with Graham Hellawell and Sally Lloyd, and ‘JH Whitley and the Royal Commission on Labour in India,’ in J. Hargreaves, K. Laybourn and Richard Toye (eds), Liberal Reform and Industrial Relations: The Life and Times of J. H. Whitley, Routledge, 2017 with Amerdeep Panesar, Amy Stoddart, James Turner and Sarah Wells.

I have curated a number of exhibitions with students, including an international collaboration called #Transatlantic Digital Victorians with Huron University College, London ON, for which see

I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


As well as publications with students, I have written four books and many articles and essays.

Examples include:

Sarah Banks, Angie Hart, Kate Pahl and Paul Ward (eds), Co-producing Research: A Community Development Approach (Policy Press, forthcoming 2018)

‘Sound System Culture: Place, Space and Identity in the United Kingdom, 1960-1989,’ Historia Contemporánea Forthcoming 2018.

The Beefeaters at the Tower of London, 1826-1914 – Icons of Englishness or Britishness? In United Kingdom? In M. Scull and N. Lloyd-Jones (eds), Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History: A (Dis)United Kingdom? Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

With Elizabeth Pente, ‘How can historical knowledge help us to make sense of communities like Rotherham?’ and ‘Local history, industrial decline and ethnic diversity in northern England,’ in Kate Pahl, Elizabeth Campbell, Elizabeth Pente and Zanib Rasool (eds), Re-imagining Contested Communities: Connecting People, Place and Culture Through Research, Policy Press, 2018, pp. 29-32 and 41-52.

With Shabina Aslam, Milton Brown, Onyeka Nubia, Elizabeth Pente, Natalie Pinnock-Hamilton, Mandeep Samra, ‘Who controls the past controls the future. Black History and Community Development’, in Sarah Banks, Angie Hart, Kate Pahl and Paul Ward (eds), Co-producing research: a community development approach, Policy Press, forthcoming 2018.

With Elizabeth Pente, ‘Let’s change History! Community histories and the co-production of historical knowledge,’ in Katie Pickles, Lyndon Fraser, Marguerite Hill, Sarah Murray, Greg Ryan (eds), History Making a Difference: New Approaches from Aotearoa, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017.

With Elizabeth Pente, Milton Brown and Hardeep Sahota, ‘The co-production of historical knowledge: implications for the history of identities,’ Identity Papers: A Journal of British and Irish Studies, 1, 1 (2015), pp. 32-53.

Did you see James Mason in town today? A case study in transatlantic and local identities in British stardom,’ Journal of Transatlantic Studies, 11, 4 (2013), pp. 401–420

Huw T. Edwards: British Labour and Welsh Socialism (University of Wales Press, 2011)

Britishness since 1870 (Routledge, 2004)

Unionism in the United Kingdom, 1918-1974 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

Red Flag and Union Jack: Englishness, patriotism and the British left, 1881-1924(Boydell, 1998). Re-issued in paperback in May 2011

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