Dr Tom Hulme

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Dr Tom Hulme
Institute of Historical Research
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Apr-2015 “A Nation Depends on Its Children”: School Buildings and Citizenship in England and Wales, 1900–1939


Calls for a renewed sense of “good citizenship” in the early twentieth century were loud and persistent. Especially important in the citizenship quest was the creation of healthy and efficient children, cured of urban maladies and loyal to a wide notion of community. Such attributes were seen as vital in an economically and militarily competitive world. Historians have already examined the sorts of political and bodily education that arose from these concerns. This article instead looks at how the focus on the body and citizenship was realized in the actual processes of school building. From the medical discourses that underpinned the design of heating, lighting, and ventilation systems, to the emerging focus on the sensory environment of the classroom, the materiality of the school was essential to creating the “good citizen”—physically fit, economically productive, and loyal to the nation.

Sep-2014 Putting the City Back into Citizenship: Civics Education and Local Government in Britain, 1918-45


This article is about interwar Britain, civic education, and the theoretical and practical expression of local citizenship. Building upon recent analyses in urban history that have reassessed the perception of municipal and civic decline, I argue that historians must now also challenge the historiography that views citizenship as indivisible from national identity. It was indeed actually common for both children and adults to be taught that it was in the local, and the city especially, that the rights and responsibilities of citizenship were received and enacted. I trace this distinctive conception of citizenship to the ideological resilience of the Victorian idealist philosopher Thomas Hill Green. Drawing on his justification for state intervention to ensure individual liberty, educators positioned municipal government as the guardian of the life and health of individuals and communities—an educational approach they termed civics. This was apparent in organizations such as the National Association of Local Government Officers, Workers’ Educational Association, and the Association for Education in Citizenship, and expressed through the flood of civics textbooks published following the First World War. Using a case study of Manchester I unpick the points of contact between these organizations and the individuals connected to Green, and show how civics was applied in both formal and informal sites of education. While this discourse of citizenship was damaged by the social democracy of the post-1945 welfare state, I conclude that, in the interwar period at least, citizenship was still very much local and urban based.

Sep-2010 Urban Governance and Civic Responsibility: Interwar Council Housing in Buxton


Councillors and locals alike in Buxton, Derbyshire, had a strong sense of civic identity relating to the town's reputation as a spa and site of leisure in the interwar period. The council clearly saw its civic role as maintaining this prestigious image. The imposition of housing powers from the central government in 1919 therefore raised an important question in the area: how far did the council's responsibility to housing the local working classes extend now that they had the means to improve conditions? The unpredictable complexities of state policy certainly had an effect on the progress of housing schemes in the town, yet a close examination of the intricate and local culture of perceived responsibility reveals the importance of a very localised decision-making process. From the resolution to build, through the problems in implementing housing schemes, to the management of tenants and property following construction, it was the local authority that had the power to make substantial changes. Buxton was a small rural town, without a popular belief that it was blighted by typical urban problems of overcrowding and slums. It instead looked to its status as a spa town to inform housing policy decisions. By elucidating Buxton's experience, as opposed to larger industrial cities with familiar problems of housing and slums, a different analysis of local intervention can be contributed to the historiography of council housing in Britain.

Feb-2016 ‘A nation of town criers’: civic publicity and historical pageantry in inter-war Britain


Historical pageantry emerged in 1905 as the brainchild of the theatrical impresario Louis Napoleon Parker. Large casts of volunteers re-enacted successive scenes of local history, as crowds of thousands watched on, in large outdoor arenas. As the press put it, Britain had caught ‘pageant fever’. Towards the end of the 1920s, there was another outburst of historical pageantry. Yet, in contrast to the Edwardian period, when pageants took place in small towns, this revival was particularly vibrant in large industrial towns and cities. This article traces the popularity of urban pageantry to an inter-war ‘civic publicity’ movement. In doing so, it reassesses questions of local cultural decline; the role of local government; and the relationship of civic responsibility to popular theatre.

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