‘What do you do?’ We have all asked that question. We identify ourselves, and each other, by the occupation that we undertake and thereby the social class to which we belong. What happens when a person’s answer to this question is forced to change by economic or political force majeure? How do people respond to unemployment in towns whose identity and occupation are perceived to be one and the same?

Although the contraction of British industry is well documented by historians, key questions of personal and community responses to the decline, particularly in relation to identity, are yet to be examined. In this thesis this imbalance will be addressed by focussing upon oral history; a history from the bottom-up. This project involves interviewing those who have felt the brunt of the decline in British industry, in order to piece together the effects that unemployment had upon both their personal and community identity. The three towns of Grimsby, Consett and Barrow-in-Furness are nineteenth century boom towns, whose identities have developed around a central industry. As such, this investigation centres on the effects of the Cod Wars (1958-1976): a conflict that saw Iceland extend its territorial and fishing boundaries from three to two-hundred miles, effectively bringing about a substantial decline in the Grimsby fishing industry; the closure of the Consett Steelworks (1981) the towns major employer[1]; and,  the slow rot that sank shipbuilding in Barrow-in-Furness (1991-1995): hastened by the failure to support shipbuilding generally or renew military contracts after the end of the Cold War. Consequently the time periods explored, range from 1958, the start of the Cod Wars, to the present day. Nevertheless, before we analyse what questions this project will address, it is worth defining the key terms and parameters of this work.

David Hume rightly stressed that: ‘of all relations the most universal is that of identity, being common to every being, whose existence has any duration.’[2] The importance of identity therefore lies in its unique relation to the subject, but also in its pervasiveness.  After all, it is a characteristic that we all possess.  As such, the definition of identity is a complex and paramount subject that is closely linked to the concept of community which has an enduring, yet elusive, quality. There is also the matter of sentimentality and emotion to take account of. These, in many respects, have permeated our culture thus making the analysis of the subject troublesome, and it is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that social scientists disagree as to what constitutes a ‘community’.  In spite of this there are some areas of agreement.[3] Primarily, all social scientists stress the importance of location that provides the place around which people initially bond or unite. The second element of community is, however, much more contentious and refers to the shared characteristics, other than location, that provide strength for the community. Consequently, although community requires geographic proximity, physical proximity does not always lead to the establishment of strong social relations.[4] Hence, factors such as common ethnic origin, religion, leisure pursuits or, crucially for this study, occupation, form the glue that holds the community together.[5] Nevertheless there is also a third factor around which communities can grow:

[C]ommunity is as much about difference as it is about similarity and identity. It is an idea which suggests […] the idea of antagonism – domination between one community and another. The word directs analysis to the boundaries between these groups.[6]

Hence community ties may be structured around links between people with common residence, common interests, common attachments or some other shared experience but they also tend to include distinct lines of difference, which stress what the community is not, as well as what it is.[7]

Moreover, the way in which we construct our personal identity mirrors how we build our communities. However, the issue of identity also goes beyond the perception of oneself; the only way to create an identity ‘includes differentiating oneself from what one is not, identity politics is always […] a policy of the creation of difference.’[8] Hence, it seems that community and identity should not be seen as different concepts; instead we should perceive them as part of the same web of social interaction. As such, ‘there is no doubt that the community of which we are members play a significant role in shaping our social identities and patterns of action.’[9]

As we have established, community is a contentious term. For some, it is an organisation of social activity, a natural progression for a cohort of humans; whereas for others, it is a divisive tool, poorly defined and based upon the exploitation of ambiguity.[10] Nevertheless, whilst the interpretations of what community and identity are, are important subjects, this study does not aim to add to the literature that discusses definitions. In contrast, this study seeks to answer crucial questions relating to identity, community and unemployment bearing in mind that these terms are often poorly defined and open to abuse. As such, for this piece of work, community will refer to: ‘a group of people who share a common sense of shared identity.’[11] This transmutable and flexible definition does also rely upon one’s definition of identity. Hence, identity, for the purposes of this work, will be referred to as: the process of individuality, achieved through thoughts and actions.[12] Within these parameters particular questions have been tackled. Namely, how were the people of Grimsby, Consett and Barrow-in-Furness affected by unemployment and how did their communities change? Were their responses similar or are they specific to the area and industry? Moreover, who did they blame for the decline in their industries?

In order to answer these questions, the three communities were chosen for specific characteristics that they have in common. Firstly, the decline in their industries was intrinsically linked to a government policy or a decision emanating from London. For instance, Grimsby’s decline following the Cod Wars is often perceived by Grimbarians to have been a result of pressure from the American government to give in to Iceland, thereby allowing NATO to keep its strategic base on Iceland. Edward Heath, the Prime Minister in 1973, conceded that the Cod Wars were a ‘dangerous situation which was dangerous to our relationship with a NATO ally.’[13] As such, many fishermen felt that politicians, from both the Labour and Conservative parties, had sold Grimsby short.[14] One former fisherman, Fred Lambert, summarised his feeling as follows: ‘they [the politicians] gave in to Iceland too easy, I think. If we’d stuck out a bit longer we’d still have been fishing today.’[15] Similarly, the decisions to close Consett Steelworks and not renew military contracts for Barrow-in-Furness also emanated from London. Secondly, the three examples chosen are on the fringes of the geographic territory of England and often look to the sea for their industry. Moreover, their geography was often crucial to the industry that they were part of. This is most obvious with both Barrow and Grimsby; nevertheless, Consett’s industry was also designed and built owing to its geographic position close to iron seams and rail links.[16] Thirdly, the industries chosen have a long and established history in their towns, which impacts upon the way that unemployment affected each community. For instance, Consett Steelworks was established in 1840; Barrow’s shipbuilding can be traced back to the Victorian era; and Grimsby’s fishing became an industry in the late eighteenth century. Moreover, the industries’ prominence in their locality means that a large number of articles, books and journals have documented the history of these industries.

The final similarity between the three industries is the nature of the workforce, which was predominantly male. Nonetheless, in order to examine how the ‘community’ and personal identity changed, following the decline of industry, this study has interviewed both men and women in order to investigate the effects on those who worked both inside and outside of the industry. A traditional criticism of the study of community is the assertion that oral history relating to community neglects the issues of gender. For instance, Delamont, Damer, Whitehead, and Riley have all stressed the patronising manner in which women have been discussed.[17]

If history is ‘an unending dialogue between the present and the past’[18] then oral history gives those who have been ‘hidden from history’ a voice.[19] Through interviews, working-class men and women have etched their experiences on historical record, and offered their own interpretations.[20] These feelings are expressed by Paul Thompson who writes:

In all these fields of history, by introducing new evidence from the underside, by shifting the focus and opening new areas of inquiry, by challenging some of the assumptions and accepted judgements of historians, by bringing recognition to substantial groups of people who have been ignored, a cumulative process of transformation is set in motion. The scope of historical writing itself is enlarged and enriched; and at the same time its social message changes. History becomes, to put it simply, more democratic.[21]

Crucially, for the aims of this project, oral history also changes the traditional relationship between the historian, the source and the community. Oral history, unlike more traditional histories, is a history built around the people: a tool which brings history both into, and out of, the community.[22] This has immense power. ‘To individual historians and others, with shared meanings, it can give a sense of belonging to a place or time.’[23] Consequently, the use of oral history in this essay and bringing history into people’s lives dovetails with the overarching questions and aims of the study: belonging, community and identity, which are all characteristics illuminated by oral history. Hence, the relationship between the ‘historian’ and the community has become a series of exchanges, a dialogue of information and interpretation.[24]

In spite of oral history’s many advantages, it can be methodologically troublesome. Ronald Grele, director of the Columbia University Oral History Research office, summarises this academic unease excellently, by stating that ‘the dominant tendency [towards oral history] has been to be overly enthusiastic in public print, and deeply suspicious in private conversation.’[25] As such, one has to be vigilant in preparing a water-tight methodology. Firstly, therefore, one must be aware that ‘the usefulness of any source depends upon the information one is looking for, or the questions one seeks to answer.’[26]

Secondly, many critics of oral history question the accuracies of memory. Eric Hobsbawm, for instance, a laudable social historian, wrote that ‘in my opinion we shall never make adequate use of oral history until we work out what can go wrong in memory.’[27] Nevertheless, this criticism fails to understand the overarching importance and qualities of oral history. For example, it is well documented that ‘memory is a mixture of fact and opinion, and both are important’,[28] but as post modernists would stress, truth is itself a subjective and illusive phenomenon. Hence, a variety of opinions on what people believe to be the truth is the foundation of new and exciting histories. In many respects, this accepts the notion that historians ‘can only see the past through a glass, darkly,’ yet this becomes an advantage, creating a plethora of views about the past.[29]

Nonetheless, the suitability and usefulness of oral history depends upon the questions asked. Hence, an interview would indeed be flawed if it focussed upon ‘specifics, such as dates, names or a sequence of events.’[30] Uniquely, however, ‘oral history provides valuable evidence of social attitudes and behaviour. It is often the only way to recapture people’s experiences.’[31] Consequently, oral history encourages grassroots history, in which ordinary people’s memories of big events, as distinct from what their superiors think they should remember, are illuminated.[32]

Thirdly, therefore, as we just touched upon, the interviewer’s questions are crucial to the ultimate success of a study. For Jocelyn Cornwell the examination of community through oral history is deemed to be particularly troublesome. Cornwell postulates that there is a clear difference between the public memories of a life and the private thoughts about one’s past.[33] In particular, she notes that often memories are partial and one sided, failing to reveal the complexities of the past. She argues that the ‘uncritical acceptance of people’s accounts leads to an unrealistic romanticisation of the past.’[34] As such, an interview which only poses open and unobtrusive questions may not delve into the ‘truth’ about their past. Consequently, some leading questions, particularly with interviewees who are answering in short bursts can help to illuminate and challenge the views of the volunteer. This must, however, be carried out with the upmost care and sensitivity. Hence, on the one hand the interviewer needs to adapt and respond to the interviewee, whilst on the other encouraging them to speak openly about their past.  Perhaps surprising though, Cornwell is a wholehearted supporter of oral history. Whilst she argues that there are peculiarities in romanticising the past, she also accepts that oral history is the most suitable way for historians and sociologists to delve into the past.  Moreover, Cornwell, also questions why people might choose to look back upon their past favourably.

Thus, one must heed E.P. Thompson’s advice: ‘the historian has got to be listening all the time. […] If he listens then the material itself will begin to speak through him.’[35] Part of this listening requires adapting, responding and pausing for thought, allowing the interviewee to express his or herself. One crucial aspect of the interview therefore is to ask broad general questions, followed by: how did that make you feel? This means that the interviewee is reflecting upon his or her opinions and directing the flow of the interview.  A successful interview, moreover, could ‘provide a means of discovering written documents and photographs which would not have otherwise been traced.’[36] Hence, wherever possible the interviews were carried out face to face, either in person or via Skype. Nevertheless, some of the interviews were carried out over the ‘phone in order to save time.

Once the interview was over, and the ‘tape’ had stopped recording, transcripts were made of the interview. However, a transcript is a very unusual form for the completed interview and is often considered the fourth methodological issue with oral history. The transcript strips away emotion, nuance, sarcasm, tone and even the length of the pauses. As such, the interviews that have been carried out are available to listen to, as well as to read. Hence, the creation of the website not only displays and advertises this work but also allows those who contributed to it, and those who are interested outside of academia, to come into contact with it.[37] Consequently, the interview itself will become ‘a performance.’[38]

The interview does, however, raise some ethical questions, which must be considered when advertising and recruiting for the project. Consequently, those who are involved in the interviews were asked to sign an ethics agreement.[39] This gave the opportunity for participants to appear under a pseudonym, whilst giving a clear and concise summary of the research project. Nevertheless, when advertising the need for interviewees, one must be equally sensitive. For this project, emails were sent to The Grimsby Telegraph, The Northern Echo, The North West Evening Mail and The Westmorland Gazette, who all agreed to publish short articles in their newspapers asking for participants to come forward. Local history societies were also contacted, through websites and also on social networking sites such as Facebook. For instance, the Consett and District Heritage Association and Grimsby Fishing History were enthusiastic about the investigation. Nonetheless, this does have an impact upon the methodology of the study. By choosing to contact groups who actively remember and, perhaps, celebrate the history of their community, it will impact upon the types of people that come forward to write the history. This is by no means a significant issue, as all sources have a bias or even an agenda; however, as an historian it is worthwhile to be aware of this. Robert Perks summarises this feeling:

The important point, of course, is that all historical sources, whether they are documentary or oral, are subject to the same influences of selectivity, interpretation and partiality. Each oral history interview is one individual piece of a complex jigsaw which, when assembled, gives us a clearer view of our past.’[40]

Another potential issue arising from advertising the project was who came forward. As previously mentioned, this study aims to explore how the community as a whole, not just the workforce, was affected. As such, in the newspaper articles, and when contacting the local history groups, it was necessary to ask for the participation of anyone who remembered the decline in the industry. Moreover, once in contact with the interviewees, it emerged that many had friends who were also involved, thus allowing the project’s scope to widen.

Furthermore, an interview also increases the pool of sources available, as Paul Thomson stresses:

The confines of the scholar’s world are no longer well-thumbed volumes of the old catalogue. Oral historians can think now as if they themselves were publishers: imagine what evidence is needed, seek it out and capture it.[41]

It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that other studies examining community, identity and decline in industry have also used oral histories, owing to the unique angles that oral history illuminates. The Women they Left Behind and Distant Waters: Stories from Grimsby’s Fishing Fleet, for instance, have used oral history as a commemorative tool of Grimsby’s fishing past.[42] Equally, in Consett an insightful book by the Further Education Unit, entitled A Case Study of Education and Unemployment, documents the experiences of steelworkers who have been made redundant, and examines their experiences of unemployment and re-entering education.[43] Similarly, this book also includes interviews with those who have lost their jobs. Finally, for Barrow, The Man Wants His Boats: Stories of Barrow Shipyard has an excellent final chapter, which tackles crucial questions of identity, community and the future of Barrow.

There are, however, many other books, including Fish ‘n’ Ships: The Rise and Fall of Grimsby – The World’s Premier Fishing Port, and The Northern Trawl, that have also been assembled from oral testimony projects. Although these are useful sources that can be used for analysis, they only provide an introduction to the available sources concerning the Cod Wars. The books use headlines from The Grimsby Telegraph or from The Fishing News, which are available through local libraries. These, therefore, were less useful for my project but did signpost interesting primary sources.

Nevertheless, other primary sources were used alongside oral histories, but these were used to fill gaps that the oral histories did not touch upon.  As such, newspaper reports, statements from the government and cartoons were also used to validate names and dates. However, this project must revolve around the oral testimony interviews; other sources were less prominent. These other sources were located in the local libraries of the three towns and also in local archives. Interestingly, a large number of films and documentaries have also been used to examine the decline in industry, particularly relating to the Cod Wars. Although these were useful sources, they only provide colour and comparisons, and not the basis for analysis.

E. H. Carr rightly asked readers to examine the historians before examining the history.[44] As such, it is worth bearing in mind who wrote the secondary literature on the three towns we are exploring. Although there is a vast amount of published material on the three towns, few are traditional ‘academic’ tomes. Nevertheless, there are invaluable academic books that tackle the history of these towns. Firstly, Consett Iron 1840 to 1980 by Kenneth Warren covers the whole history of Consett, as an iron and steel town, in great detail.[45] The bibliography to this work is also an interesting read, yet it highlights how few books or articles have been written about the closure of the steelworks. Warren, for instance, is forced to cite two unpublished dissertations in an attempt to amass a large pool of sources.  Secondly, Trawling: The Rise and Fall of the British Trawl Fishery, by Robb Robinson, is a vital academic study of trawl fishing.[46] Exploiting the Sea, edited by David Starkey and Alan Jamieson, is also worth mentioning. Both books offer much-needed interpretation and contain impressive and useful bibliographies.[47] Furthermore, unlike some local history books, they follow traditional patterns of referencing and are written for an academic audience. Equally, for Barrow-In-Furness, two books have documented the history accurately and diligently. British Ship Building and the State Since 1918: A Political Economy of Decline and Building the Trident Network: A Study of Enrolment of People, Knowledge and Machines are the two main sources which discuss the decline in Barrow-in-Furness.[48] They, too, help to assemble interpretations and information and present it in an academic yet readable fashion.

Some sources, in contrast, are more relevant to business historians, as they include quotas on the levels of production from the three industries. The Fisheries of Europe, for example, is an impressively-researched book yet its contents would be more relevant to historians looking at statistics.[49] Similarly, Vickers: A History by J.D. Scott focusses on a top-down approach which highlights major changes in production and contains little historical analysis.[50] Equally, Atkinson’s The Steel Industry in North West Durham focusses on the outputs of the steelworks, yet fails to tackle social issues associated with employment.[51] Therefore, these sources are less useful to my project but can be used to highlight the decline in industry numerically.

Furthermore, countless history books have been written for the attention of the local people, who nostalgically remember ‘the good old days’ of industry. Bernard Bale’s Memories of Lincolnshire’s Fishing Industry is the most obvious example of this, yet these books often provide useful and insightful observations. Free of convoluted and complex language, the books, which are written for a popular audience, provide a good introduction to the social implications of unemployment. Equally, A Shipyard Town by Bryn Trescatheric tells the story of Barrow in the twentieth century.[52] Although it is not a book that can be referenced easily, it provides a readable introduction and the bibliography offers a useful signpost towards primary sources. Many of these sources are, however, difficult to find as they are published by local history groups. For instance, Consett: From Steel to Tortilla Chips, a well-received book with chapters written by former steelworkers, is only available online and, owing to the small number of books produced, costs over seventy pounds. As such, in order for this project to be viable, not all local history books were examined.

Nevertheless, there are many articles that have examined community within Consett, Grimsby and Barrow-in-Furness. Growing Up in the Margins, published in 1986, A Woman’s Place in Barrow/Lancaster/Preston, published in 1984, and Tunstall’s 1982 article The Fishermen of Hull all offer insights into community life.[53] Living the Fishing also offers an academic perspective on how the communities formed. These books can, therefore, provide an interpretation of a community in the 1980s.

Furthermore, there are a wealth of books offering interpretations of the effect of unemployment upon identity and community. Graham Crow and Graham Allan’s Community Life provides an excellent introduction to the topic, and includes a detailed bibliography.[54] Additionally, the book summarises key works on the subject since the 1970s.[55] Crucially, therefore, it includes a summary of Harris’ study of Port Talbot in 1986: Boston and Wright’s study of a coalmining village; and Howe’s study of Belfast.[56] In these investigations, contrary to what one might think, community ties became closer when faced with unemployment, as unemployment was no longer stigmatised. Moreover, in 1987 Harris studied a Welsh mining community and found that: ‘geographical mobility, public housing and urban planning and redevelopment, together with the influence of the media have destroyed the traditional patterns of social life focussed on communal institutions: clubs/pubs, Church/Chapel and various forms of social life. Thus, a significant change to the community had taken place, as groups often could not meet in familial surroundings.[57] Harris’ study formed the basis of Bornat’s study of ‘remembered communities’, where the conception of, and memories about, what the community was, has constantly changed and augmented in the light of new research. [58] For our purposes the notion that community change can be viewed negatively is manifest, as it suggests that any change, from what is perceived as normal and natural can be viewed negatively. Moreover, this is accompanied with the ageing of the individual. Hence one must postulate whether one becomes less willing to accept change as one becomes older.

These themes are also explored in The Experience of Unemployment, an edited book that focuses upon the effects of gender, and, crucially, the type of occupation on a shift in identity.[59] Similarly, Social Change and the Experience of Unemployment includes an insightful chapter concerning the psychological impacts of unemployment.[60] In spite of this, these books, although useful, only provide an insight into the effects of unemployment, without focussing on the specific occupation that the workers were part of. Nevertheless, Community and Occupation by Salman, published in 1974, offers a much-needed theoretical insight into the differing effects that the occupation has upon the community.[61] The Sociology of Industry, published in 1980, includes a seminal chapter: Industry, the community and the polity’, which tackles many of the questions that this study looks to address. Voices Within and Without tackles the responses to long-term unemployment in Germany, Sweden and Britain and is a fascinating read. Furthermore, this book, uniquely, includes interviews with those who were unemployed, before analysing the transcripts. This study can therefore be compared with the findings of my own study.[62] As such, there are a variety of secondary sources that can help provide context and a framework for analysis, but the oral testimony transcripts will remain centre stage.

That said, before we conclude it is worth exploring why these questions are worthy of examination. Firstly, this investigation matters to the people who are helping to write the history. Unlike many traditional histories, oral histories bring the interpretations of the past to the locality. Thus, the past is no longer concerning the ‘quarrels of popes and kings’;[63] instead it is democratic, refreshing and accessible. Secondly, this study is relevant to everyone as it directly relates to something we all crave: belonging. As Eric Hoffer rightly states, ‘[t]o a man utterly without a sense of belonging, mere life is all that matters’. It is the only reality, in an eternity of nothingness, and he clings to it with shameless despair.’[64] As such, this topic tackles themes of belonging, identity and community within Britain: relevant and meaningful questions that matter in a democratic, pluralist state. Thirdly, this investigation gains its impact from its importance to regional economies and regeneration schemes, which will help to highlight how communities changed following unemployment.

In order to create the most insightful and vivid history, oral history has been examined. This, perhaps surprisingly, is the issue that E.H. Carr inadvertently challenged historians to tackle. Firstly, Carr suggested that historians must ‘rise above the limited vision of his own situation in society and his history […] Secondly we mean that [the historian] has the capacity to project his vision into the future in such a way as to give him a profound and more lasting insight into the past than can be attained by those historians whose outlook is entirely bounded by their own immediate situation.’[65] As such, Carr asks historians to look beyond the limited sources, and therefore visions, of history itself in order to interpret: skills which oral history offers in abundance. As such, A.J.P. Taylor’s scathing remarks, that oral history merely gives us ‘old men drooling about their youth’,[66] misses the mark. By using an ‘alternative history’ this study is helping to interpret and therefore purport a new truth of what the past was like, and the specific questions it tackles are dependent upon the interviewees’ responses. Thus, as Crow and Allan rightly suggest, a new interpretation of communities is always welcome, whether it matches previous findings or not, as communities themselves are so varied.[67]

[1] To make matters worse, many in the town considered the closure of Hownsgate plate mill, in late 1979, which cost over fifteen-hundred jobs, a sacrifice that would save the company. Consett steelworks total closure followed just nine months later.

[2] D. Hume, A treatise of human nature: being an attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects (1739–1740. London: printed for John Noon) p.34

[3] P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of a Community (Routledge, London, 2003) p.7, p.11

[4] Lee and Newby (1969), p.144 in G. Crow and G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Local Social Relations (Harvester, London, 1994) p.5

[5] G. Crow and G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Local Social Relations (Harvester, London,1994) p.2

[6] A. Cohen, A Symbol Whalsay: Symbol, Segment and Boundary in a Shetland Island Community (Manchester University Press, Manchester,  1987)  p.235, in Ibid. p.8

[7] Ibid., p.1

[8] S. Benhabib, (ed.) ‘Introduction’ in Democracy and Difference: Contesting Boundaries of the Political (Princeton University Press, Chichester, 1996) p.3

[9] G. Crow and G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Local Social Relations (Harvester, London, 1994) p.1

[10] P. Wilmott, Community Initiatives: Patterns and Prospects (1989) in Ibid. p21

[11] Ibid.p.4

[12] Oxford English Dictionary online, ‘personal identity’: J. Locke, An essay concerning humane understanding (new ed.) (1700) ii xxvii. p.181

[13] J. Goddard, R. Spalding, Fish ‘n’ Ships: The Rise and Fall of Grimsby – The World’s Premier Fishing Port (Swannack Brown, Hull, 1987) p.106

[14] Ibid., p.84

[15] Ibid.

[16] K. Warren, Consett Iron 1840-1980: A Study in Industrial Location (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1990)

[17] G. Crow and G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Local Social Relations (Harvester, London, 1994) p. 36

[18] E.H. Carr, What is History? p.30 in R. J. Evans, In Defence of History (Granta Books, London, 1997) p.225

[19] S. Rowbotham, Hidden from History (Pluto, London, 1973) p. IX

[20] R. Perks, A. Thomson (eds.), ‘Introduction’ in The Oral History Reader (Routledge, London, 1998) p. IX

[21] P. Thompson, ‘Oral History: The Voice of the Past’ in R. Perks, A. Thomson (eds.), ‘Introduction’ in The Oral History Reader (Routledge, London, 1998) p.26

[22] Ibid., p.28

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] R.J. Grele, ‘Movement Without Aim: Methodological and Theoretical Problems in Oral History’ in R. Perks, A. Thomson (eds.), ‘Introduction’ in The Oral History Reader (Routledge, London, 1998) p.38

[26] Ibid., p.41

[27] E. Hobsbawm, On History (Abacus, London, 2007) p.272

[28] R. Perks, Oral History: Talking About the Past (The Oral History Association, London, 1992) p.13

[29] R.J. Evans, In Defence of History (Granta Books, London, 1997) p.104

[30] P. Catterall, ‘Oral History’ in P. Catterall, H. Jones (eds.), Understanding Documents and Sources (Heinemann, Oxford, 1994) p.25

[31] Ibid., p.28

[32] E. Hobsbawm, On History (Abacus, London, 2007) p.273

[33] G. Crow and G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Local Social Relations (Harvester, London, 1994) p20

[34] Ibid.

[35] R.J. Evans, In Defence of History (Granta Books, London, 1997) p.116

[36] P. Thompson, ‘Oral History: The Voice of the Past’ in R. Perks, A. Thomson (eds.), ‘Introduction’ in The Oral History Reader (Routledge, London, 1998) p.24

[37] The website for this research can be found at

The interviewees have been sent this address to be able to come into contact with the history that they have helped to write.

[38] R. J. Grele, ‘Movement Without Aim: Methodological and Theoretical Problems in Oral History’ in R. Perks, A. Thomson (eds.), ‘Introduction’ in The Oral History Reader (Routledge, London, 1998) p.44

[38] E. Hobsbawm, On History (Abacus, London, 2007) p.272

[39] For interviews taking place via Skype two agreements were sent to the participant. One signed and kept, whilst the other was returned to me, by the interviewee, in a stamped addressed envelope. Full copies of the signed ethics agreements will be available to view online.

[40] R. Perks, Oral History: Talking About the Past (The Oral History Association, London, 1992) p.7

[41] P. Thompson, ‘Oral History the Voice of the Past’ in R. Perks, A. Thomson (eds.), ‘Introduction’ in The Oral History Reader (Routledge, London, 1998) p.24

[42] N. Triplow, T. Bramhill, S. James, Distant Waters: Stories from Grimsby’s Fishing Fleet (North Wall, Hull, 2011), N. Triplow, S. Bramhill, J. Shepherd, The Women They Left Behind (Fathom Press for CPO Media, Hull, 2012) Thank you to Nick Triplow for kindly making the transcripts to these books available. These transcripts have added to the pool of primary sources concerning Grimsby. However, one must bear in mind that my interpretation of the transcripts will be different, having not been part of the interviewing process.

[43] J. Holmes, Consett: A Case Study of Education and Unemployment (Further Education Unit , London, 1985)

[44] E.H. Carr, What is History? p.6 in R.J. Evans, In Defence of History (Granta Books, London, 1997) p.226

[45] K. Warren, Consett Iron 1840-1980: A Study in Industrial Location (Oxford University press, Oxford, 1990)

[46] R. Robinson, Trawling: The Rise and Fall of the Great British Trawl (University of Exeter Press, Exeter, 1996)

[47] D. Starky, E. Jamieson (eds.), Exploiting the Sea: Aspects of Britain’s Maritime Economy Since 1870 (Exeter University Press, Exeter, 1998)

[48] M. Mort, Building the Trident Network: A Study of Enrolment of People, Knowledge and Machines (MIT Press, London, 2002) and L. Johnman, M. Murphy, British Ship Building and the State Since 1918: A Political Economy of Decline (Univeristy of Exeter Press, Exeter, 2002)

[49] J. Coull, The Fisheries of Europe (G. Bell and Sons, London, 1972)

[50] J.D. Scott, Vickers: A History (Weindenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1962)

[51] J.R. Atkinson, The Steel Industry in North West Durham (Durham Council, Durham, 1986)

[52] B. Trescatheric, A Shipyard Town (The Dock Museum, Barrow, 2011)

[53] J. Tunstall, The Fishermen of Hull (Hull University Press, Hull, 1962), E.A. Roberts, A Woman’s Place in Barrow/Lancaster/Preston (Wiley Blackwell, London, 1984) and F. Coffield et al, Growing up in the Margins (County Durham Press, Durham, 1986)

[54] G. Crow, G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Social Relations (Simon and Schuster, Hempstead, 1994)

[55] Ibid. Interestingly, on p.XIX the book discusses whether being born in the community that you are examining has an effect on the study. I myself was born in Grimsby, but many years after the Cod Wars; consequently, it will have a negligible effect upon the study.

[56] G. Crow, G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Social Relations (Simon and Schuster, Hempstead, 1994) pp.48-51

[57] Harris (1987), in G. Crow and G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Local Social Relations (Harvester, London, 1994) p19

[58] Bornat (1993), in Ibid. p22

[59] S. Allen et al (eds.), The Experience of Unemployment (Macmillan Press, Bassingstoke, 1986)

[60] D. Gaille, C. Marsh, C. Vogler (eds.), Social Change and the Experience of Unemployment (Oxford Univeristy Press, Oxford, 1995)

[61] G. Salaman, Community and Occupation: An Exploration of Work/Leisure Relationships (Cambridge Univeristy Press, 1974)

[62] J. Clasen, A. Gould, J. Vincent, Voices Within and Without (The Polity Press, Bristol, 1998)

[63] J. Austen, Northanger Abbey (Little Brown Company, Boston, 1903) p.129

[64] E. Hoffer, Between the Devil and the Dragon (Harper and Row, London, 1982) p.214

[65] E.H. Carr, What is History? p.30 in R.J. Evans, In Defence of History (Granta Books, London, 1997) p.225

[66] A.J.P. Taylor in P. Catterall, ‘Oral History’ in P. Catterall, H. Jones (eds.), Understanding Documents and Sources (Heinemann, Oxford, 1994) p.25

[67] G. Crow, G. Allan, Community Life: An Introduction to Social Relations (Simon and Schuster, Hempstead, 1994) p.195INI


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