Profile of Dr Peter Shapely

Image of Dr Nancy Edwards
Dr Peter Shapely
Reader and Head of School
01248 382148
Room 224.2 Main Arts



Dr Shapely graduated with a first class degree in politics and modern history from Salford University in 1990. He then worked as a Research Assistant for Professor Alan Kidd on a series of relational databases which plotted the size and scale of the voluntary sector across nineteenth century Manchester and Salford. He joined the School in 1998 as a lecturer in modern and contemporary British history.  His initial research interests included urban history, voluntarism and governance in the nineteenth century. More recently, his research has focused on decision-making, governance and policy in twentieth century Britain.

Teaching & Supervision


  • Ideas that Shaped the Twentieth Century
  • Nazi State
  • Twentieth Century Europe
  • Slums, Riots and Regeneration
  • Poverty, Society and the State


  • Identity and the Victorian City

Ph. D supervision
Dr. Shapely is willing to consider Ph.D supervision on a range of nineteenth and twentieth century British history topics, including urban history, governance, politics (local and national), poverty and social policy.

Current doctoral students:

  • Current Ph.D., supervisor, Liz Homans.

Liz is looking at women, feminism and politics in 1970s Britain. Focusing on key pieces of legislation she looks at the competing political, social and economic challenges and shifts in the decision-making process.

  • Current Ph.D., supervisor, Judith Taylor.

Judith is working on educational provision for poor girls in nineteenth century Liverpool and Birkenhead. She is assessing the impact of legislation on the level of provision and on the type of education provided.

  • Current Ph.D supervisor, Penelope Harris.

Penny’s research looks at the architectural profession in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Using Joseph Hansom as a case study, she is analysing the importance of patronage and the impact of social, economic and political change on the emerging profession.


Governance and Exclusion: Inner City Britain, 1957-1981.
Source: AHRC Fellowship
This project looks at state responses to urban deprivation during 1967-1978. From the mid-1960s the ‘rediscovery’ of poverty began to concern policy makers. A series of government initiatives were introduced by both Labour and Conservative governments, including the Community Development Project, the Education Priority Areas, the Six Towns Studies, the Neighbourhood Scheme and the Comprehensive Communities Programme. Each was a pilot project designed to provide both social action in deprived communities and to look at the causes of deprivation through parallel research project. By 1978, however, solutions to urban deprivation were shifting from an emphasis on social programmes to an approach that was driven by economic regeneration.
This research will eventually be published in a monograph by Ashgate. In addition, the research project looked at racism and the growing urban unrest from the mid-1960s through to the 1981 riots. This work will be published in a separate article. 

Public and Private Sector Partnerships and the Emergence of the Entrepreneurial City: Historical Strategies in the Development of Policy in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham, 1945-1974.
Source: British Academy
This project focused on urban governance since 1945. It was divided into three key areas. First, it looked at the role of local government and the concept of the entrepreneurial city. This focused on how local authorities developed their role in promoting their towns and cities. Second, it looked at the relationship with the private sector and the strategies that evolved in supporting and attracting private capital from the 1950s. Third, it re-visited the concept of civic pride as an expression of local aspirations and as a form of symbolic power. It led to three publications in Twentieth Century British History, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and Urban History.

Power, Policy and Consumers
Source: British Academy Grant
This research developed the work of the previous housing project. It focused on the decision-making process, urban governance and tenants. It looked at aspects of the politics of social housing in the Manchester region, but in a national context, across the twentieth century. This led to a series of articles in journals with an international profile (Social History) and a second monograph, Power, Policy and Consumers: Urban Culture and the Politics of Twentieth Century Housing, published in October 2007 with Manchester University Press. Other published work included ‘Social housing and tenant participation’ through the History and Policy web site on  (April 2008), and ‘The housing crisis,’ published in BBC History Magazine (April 2008). More recently, it led to publications in Planning Perspectives and an invitation to write the ‘Introduction’ to the Skeffington Report as part of a volume in the new Routledge reprints in planning history.

The Labour Party and the Politics of Housing in Manchester and Salford 1945-1987.
Source: Leverhulme
This housing project started in 2001 with a Leverhulme grant which focused on policy, housing and the Labour Party. It also included Professor Steve Fielding and Dr. Andy Walling. Initial findings were published in a joint article in Twentieth Century British History.

Key & Recent Publications

The Politics of Housing: Power, Policy and Consumers, Manchester, October 2007, pp.i-vii, 1-234.

Reconfiguring the Recipient: Historical Perspectives on the Negotiation of Medicine, Charity and Mutual Aid, jointly edited volume with Prof. Anne Borsay, Aldershot, 2007, pp. i-x, 1-269.
Joint Introduction, pp. 1-10.

Charity and Power in Nineteenth Century Manchester, Manchester, 2000, pp. i-vii, 1-151.

‘Introductio,’ People and Planning, Abingdon, 2014.
‘Civic pride and policy in the post-war city,’ accepted by Urban History.2012.

‘Government and Governance in the Post-War City: Historical Reflections on Public – Private Regimes’ accepted by International Journal of Urban and Regional Studies, 2012.

 ‘The Entrepreneurial City: The Role of Local Government in Northern Industrial Cities and City Centre Redevelopment,’ Twentieth Century British History, 2010.

‘Civil Society in post-war Britain’ in The Ages of Voluntarism edited by Matthew Hilton, Oxford, 2011, pp.94-113.

‘Planning and Participation: the Tenant and Post War Housing in Britain,’ Planning Perspectives, 2010, pp.75-90.

‘Council wars: city v county and the overspill struggles, 1945-1971’, chapter in Urban Life and Politics, ed., B. Doyle, Newcastle, 2007, pp. 99-115.

‘The Co-operative Men’s Guild and the limits of mutual aid,’in Reconfiguring the Recipient: Historical Perspectives on the Negotiation of Medicine, Charity and Mutual Aid, in A. Borsay and P. Shapely, eds., Aldershot, April 2007, pp. 225-243.

‘Tenants Arise’. Consumerism, tenants and the challenge to council authority in Manchester’, Social History, 31, 1, 2006, pp. 60-78.

‘Civic culture and housing policy in Manchester, 1945-1979,’ joint article with Duncan Tanner and Andy Walling, Twentieth Century British History. 15, 4, 2004, pp. 410-434.

 ‘The press and the system built developments of inner city Manchester, 1960s-1980s’, Manchester Region History Review, 2004, pp. 30-39.

‘Urban charity, class relations and social cohesion: charitable responses to the Cotton Famine’, Urban History, 28, 1, 2001, pp. 46-64.

‘Charity and Parliamentary Candidates in Manchester: A Consideration of Electoral and Charity Fields and the Social Basis of Power’, International Review of Social History, May 1999, pp. 1-21.

‘Charity and Leadership: Charitable Image and the Manchester Man’, Journal of Social History, September 1998, pp. 157-177. ‘Saving and Salvation’, Chapter in T.Wyke, ed., The Church in Cottonopolis, Manchester 1997, pp. 72-84.

‘Henshaw’s Blind Asylum and the Charity Market’, Manchester Region History Review, 1994, pp. 54-60.

Other Publications
‘Social housing and tenant participation’, History and Policy web article, April 2008.

‘The housing crisis,’ BBC History Magazine, April 2008, pp. 18-19.

‘Work and Work Ethics’, essay in Encyclopaedia of European Social History, New York, 2001.

Encyclopaedia of the European Left, contributions on Jim Callaghan, Ernest Bevin, the General Strike, the Left in Ireland.


DNB Contributions

Various book reviews including J. Welshman, From Transmitted Deprivation to Social Exclusion, reviewed for Journal of Contemporary History, 2008; J. Garrard, ed., Heads of the Local State, reviewed for Urban History, 2008; J. Moore and J. Smith, eds., Corruption in Urban Politics and Society, reviewed for Urban History, 2008; M.J.D. Roberts, Making English Morals, reviewed for Social History, 2007; Gillian Wagner, Thomas Coram, Gent, reviewed for H-List, Michigan, 2006; Anne Borsay, Medicine and charity in Georgian Bath, for Social History, New York 2001; Martin Gorsky, Patterns of philanthropy in Bristol, reviewed for Social History, New York 2001; M.J.Hewitt, The Emergence of Stability, reviewed for Manchester Region History Review, 1997.