History Graduates from the 1960s and 1970s

Roger Adey, Marketing Director (graduated 1979)

I work in the field of direct marketing and marketing communication. I am a director and part owner of an agency, Plum Ideas. I have worked in this field since 1984, prior to which I was in publishing. It was my history degree that got me the publishing role as the company advertised for a History graduate to research and build reader databases. I moved from there into direct marketing and have been in it ever since.

My memories of Lancaster are fond. I enjoyed my time there immensely making friends that I still see today. The environment enabled work, learning and fun. The History Department was full of characters who made lectures and seminars interesting and enjoyable. John Gooch was a great favourite together with John Walton, Bob Bliss and many others. They encouraged research and debate where all points of view were heard and then challenged, including their own. They were keen to see improvement and progression of work and ideas. I have taken that, plus the research ability with me throughout my career.

John Hamshere, Chief Executive, Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust (graduated 1979)

As with many people, serendipity played a key part in my career path. After graduating I spent four years travelling and working as a labourer in factories, wondering what I wanted to do. In 1983 I found myself in a bedsit in Leeds and I spotted a tiny advert in the Guardian for a diploma in Industrial Archaeology at the Institute of Industrial Archaeology at Ironbridge Gorge Museum which was part of Birmingham University. This became a Masters degree and was my way back onto a career path using my love of history. I had to fund myself through this and so studied part time over two years and worked for the Museum's Archaeology Unit. In 1985 I got the first proper job I had ever applied for at the Museum of Science and Engineering in Newcastle.

In 1989 I became the first Museums Officer for Allerdale Borough Council in Cumbria and then in 1994 I was appointed as the first Executive Director of Kelham Island Museum Ltd, a charitable trust set up to rescue Sheffield's industrial museum from closure. Success led to expansion in 1998 to form Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and later my title was inflated to Chief Executive!

Matthew Last, Business Consultant (graduated 1979)

I run a small business consultancy based in Cambridge, which I started 20 years ago after spending some time in international sales and marketing positions. We are specialists in leadership and management development and work extensively with technology based companies. This involves working with teams, individuals and using executive coaching, facilitation and sometimes teaching. Although I have studied for an MBA since leaving Lancaster I have always thought that a good history degree is an excellent starting point for a career in business as it trains people to deal with a large and varied amount of information, argue a cogent case, summarise and, perhaps most importantly, understand the importance of context. I have very fond memories of Lancaster University and town (in my day there were a number of breweries in the town!). The University was good to me and I will always feel very grateful for both the education and the pastoral care.

Adam Kirby, Teacher (graduated 1979)

I graduated in 1979, having studied mainly late medieval and early modern history with a minor in political philosophy. Apart from enjoying my studies and fuelling my love of history, I think the studies at Lancaster helped me to develop my analytical skills and abilities in expressing myself clearly in writing as well as orally. As a teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages, I often work with students who need to develop their essay writing skills in order to further their studies. I am sure that the grounding I received in writing History and other essays has provided me with a firm foundation to help others. I also think that seminar discussions dealing with historical and political issues helped to hone my mind and develop my problem solving skills.

Julia Holland, Teacher and Author (graduated 1977)

After graduating, I became a Senior Lecturer in History and Vocational Education at various Further Education Colleges around London. The way I was taught at Lancaster influenced my own teaching especially helping students understand the difficulties and discipline of writing essays. I then became a second-hand bookshop owner in Kenmare Co. Kerry Ireland. Again my interest in History which was encouraged at university was key to being a successful bookshop owner. Apart from the knowledge to buy books you need to be able to talk about and recommend books on all subjects. I am author of the Second World War memoir Rosie's War, published by Michael O'Mara books in April 2011. The research and essays skills learnt from university are crucial for any kind of writing as well as the discipline to write to a deadline.

Mary Curran, Research Manager (graduated 1975)

I went to Lancaster in 1972 to do Sociology and Politics, but switched to a History major after really interesting first year courses – modern European working-class history, and a comparison of British and US political and economic imperialism. I’d left school at 16 to do catering and done my A Levels in an FE college, so I felt privileged to be at university, getting a grant to read, discuss, and write about recent history which seemed extremely relevant to the political issues of the period.

The skills I developed are transferable and invaluable in working life, and as an active citizen. These are skills in finding, critically assessing and analysing evidence; in developing an argument which is supported by evidence, and presenting this clearly verbally and in writing. I have used these skills throughout my working life in adult and community education (teacher, community learning organiser, and manager), and particularly in my 10 years in national strategic roles for the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), most recently as special projects and research manager. After completing an MA in Applied Research and Consultancy (also at Lancaster!), I now do freelance applied research and consultancy and these skills are more important than ever. 


Don Porter, Managing Director (graduated 1975)

I studied at Lancaster between 1972 and 1977. I look back on those five years with very happy memories. My first degree was History. I went on to a Masters degree in Modern Social History. Those were wonderful years in the History department. A combination of highly respected senior historians like Austin Woolrych, Geoff Holmes and Harold Perkin and young highly talented stars like Eric Evans. All of these historians and several more like them at Lancaster taught me a huge amount in terms of analytical skills and prepared me for an exciting and productive career ahead.

After leaving Lancaster, I joined the graduate training scheme at British Airways and worked initially in the research department and then helped to design and implement the culture change programme in the 1970s for Colin Marshall. A similar role was then undertaken for Lloyds Bank. In 1988, I launched my own management consultancy, MSB. We specialize in culture change, customer service and people development with ‘blue-chip’ organizations internationally. MSB has two core skill areas, employee/customer research and learning and development. In 1996, I was delighted to receive a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. 

A particular point of pride and satisfaction is that my relationship with Lancaster continues. I serve on the Court of the University and my company is working in partnership with the Management School on a range of client work in the UK and the Middle East. Lancaster is a first class university.

Arthur Neil, Chief Executive at Voluntary Action Vale Royal (graduated 1972)

I went to Lancaster in 1969 and was in Fylde College in the days when it was only half a dozen residential blocks. I remember when I went I was undecided about majoring in History or English but a year of linguistics decided it for me and I did History and Sociology. I have many happy memories of university and the town. My love of history really developed at Lancaster and I taught for a while when I left having taken a MA in Modern Social History there. My teaching career was short lived as I just didn't feel it was for me. I ended up working in the voluntary sector as CE of the local council for voluntary service and have been there 28 years. I think if anything it was experiencing the privilege of higher education even though I came from a single parent working class household that made me keen to work for the rights of others. We deliver a lot of training and adult learning at our place! I also got heavily involved in politics and served as a councillor for over 30 years including 10 as Leader of Vale Royal Borough Council. In 2000 I was elected a Fellow of the RSA and a few years got the North West group to meet in Northwich to see and hear something abut our work with adult learners.

Margaret Bozic, Chartered Surveyor (graduated 1971)

After I graduated I trained to become a Chartered Surveyor. It has been a good mix of buildings, maths and people. I took every chance to inspect old and interesting buildings, using my knowledge of local history to interpret them. I specialised in valuations, ending up as specialist valuer for licensed properties. It has been a very interesting and challenging career. I am now retired, and with a keen interest still in history, and local history in particular. I take guided walks for the local history group, and still do some research. Nowadays my passions are for Victorian History, and buildings, and industrial archaeology. Thank you, Lancaster History Department, for giving me this lifelong passion.

Ian Beckett, Visiting Professor of Military History (graduated 1971)

I was at Lancaster from 1968 to 1971, so the University was still at an early stage and the Department continued to grow. John Gooch, who has just retired as Professor of International History at Leeds, arrived as a lecturer in my second year. Already wishing to pursue military history as a career, I was able to do John's new third year 'War and Society' course. That set me up for going straight on to a PhD at King's College, London. From that all else followed, as taught masters' were not then essential. Initially I went into university administration, but escaped to spend 15 years at RMA Sandhurst, before holding chairs at Luton, Northampton and the US Marine Corps University. I am now semi-retired as Visiting Professor of Military History at Kent. I have happy memories of Lancaster, and quite a few of us went on to academic careers, including Professor John Beckett (no relation), with whom (much to his horror) I continue to be confused. It was extraordinary how much the University had grown when I came back to examine a PhD there in early 2008, almost 40 (sobering) years to the day that I was interviewed as an applicant by Dr Tony Tuck. Lancaster wasn't actually my first choice but, my goodness, I'm so grateful to Tony for convincing me Lancaster was the place to be.

Sarah Bedford, Teacher (graduated 1971)

Forty years ago, I graduated from Lancaster University; a moment that made my parents extremely proud of their daughter as I was the first from our family to go to university. What they could not really appreciate was what I had learnt in three years both on the course in which I majored in History, and the wider life skills of tolerance, balance and time management. I acquired a deep and long lasting knowledge of American history and politics in units that gelled so well together. I was able to gain enough people skills to go into teaching; a job I have done for nearly forty years. I have been Head of Sixth Form for nearly half that time in a comprehensive school on the far shore of neighbouring Cumbria. I am still interested in the outdoors and enjoying pastimes introduced to me at Lancaster. It may have been just three years but the experience has lasted a lifetime.

Glyn Stone, Professor of International History (graduated 1970)

Forty years after graduating from Lancaster with my degree in History I am teaching and researching as Professor of International History at the University of the West of England, Bristol. It was at Lancaster that I really developed my literary and research skills which would enable me later to complete a PhD thesis and publish books and articles but the university also taught me time management skills and how to organise my work through the presentation of numerous assignments and attendance at seminars and lectures. For many years at the West of England I managed a large Humanities Faculty as Associate Dean and Dean and these latter skills, first developed at Lancaster, enabled me to conduct a range of important tasks, including managing faculty personnel, chairing committees, academic planning, and so on. I have enjoyed a vibrant and challenging professional life and my debt to Lancaster is considerable.

Peter Hooson, Commercial Director (graduated 1970)

On leaving the University I worked for British Leyland at Longbridge in their Computer Programming department (all punch cards and intermittent access to a massive mainframe computer). After a short while I moved to a credit controller position with a machinery manufacturing company before emigrating to Australia. Through contacts there I entered the industry in which I spent the rest of my career - heavy building materials, and more specifically concrete, aggregates and cement. The Australian company I worked for looked for graduates of any discipline to move quickly into general management. Good interpersonal skills, numeracy and common sense were primary requirements. I returned to the UK with that company and also worked in Italy, where my lack of an Engineering qualification caused consternation - titles are very much the norm and mine ranged from "Ingenere" to "Geometra" to "Dottore". I ended up as a Commercial Director for a large multinational company with a turnover in the UK of c. £1.3bn, and subsequently have run my own Consultancy Business in the same field.

Elizabeth Borowiecka, Architect (graduated 1968)

I joined the University in its second year, before the move to Bailrigg, when the administration building was the old Waring and Gillow furniture factory and the JCR was an ex Congregational church. The town was at a low point in terms of prosperity, with the demise of the cotton industry almost complete, and the economic boost of the University yet to be felt. On the bright side, it had a lively and cheerful demeanour, a great indoor market, some fine old stone buildings including some lovely pubs and good access to the Lake district and fells. My favourite history course was Dr Marshall's, which looked at the local history of Lancashire with particular reference to the history of the cotton industry and the industrial revolution, the remains of which were all around. This has given me continuing interest in local history, though latterly in relation to Camberwell in south London rather than the north west.

I have been working as an architect for the last 25 years. Whilst a degree in history is an unusual background for a career in architecture, I have found the discipline of history has been useful to me in my work. In particular it has been helpful in letter writing and reports, collecting information and formulating arguments, and exploring the historic context of design projects. This photograph was taken last year on site - we were converting a stable into a house, and I was checking the Juliet balcony.

Paul Johnston, Teacher (graduated 1968)

I read History at Lancaster between 1965 and 1968. The University was still small, almost intimate, which meant that ordinary students got to know and talk to professors - something unknown at older, larger places as I later learnt. It was also flexible. I intended to major in Politics at first but fell in love with History, especially American History, during my first year. This led to me taking History as my major subject with Politics minor and spending much time under the guidance of Michael Heale, a great authority on Jacksonian Democracy. The love of American History stayed with me through life and I was able to pass it on to my own A-level students at schools in Bristol and London, organising student trips to the US and sending some to American universities to study.