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Andy Gritt

Andrew Gritt

Head of Department

School of Arts & Humanities

Staff Group(s)
History, Heritage and Global Cultures Arts and Humanities


Dr Andy Gritt joined Nottingham Trent University in 2014 initially as Academic Courses Manager for History and Heritage gaining promotion to Head of History, Heritage and Global Cultures a year later. He continues to teach undergraduate students, supervise postgraduate students and is research active in a number of areas. Dr Gritt's current primary research focus is on the employability of graduates, especially from the Humanities. He is a steering committee member of the East Midlands Centre for Teaching and Learning in History.

Andy also retains an active interest in British economic and social history, c. 1650-1914, with particular emphasis on agriculture, industrialisation, poverty and welfare, landscape and population history. This work has led to him being an advisor to several workhouse museums in the UK and he is also a steering member of the Workhouse Museums Network. He also has a research interest in public history, most significantly through his long-standing work with family historians, local history and heritage organisations, and a range of museums.

Career overview

Dr Gritt worked at the University of Central Lancashire as a Lecturer and Senior lecturer from 2000 to 2014, with a year teaching part-time at the University of Manchester in 2004. Dr Gritt also founded, and directed the Institute of Local and Family History at the University of Central Lancashire from 2001 to 2014, hosting over 120 conferences and study days, and developing and delivering online degree-level family history courses. In 2013 he was temporarily Divisional Leader for History, Politics and Philosophy.

Research areas

Dr Gritt is currently focusing his research on undergraduate employability within and beyond the Humanities. This includes a number of related activities including a survey of attitudes towards and experiences of employability within history degrees in the East Midlands (in collaboration with Dr Caroline Neilsen, Northampton; funded by the East Midlands Centre for Teaching and Learning in History). Further work is ongoing on graduate attributes across multiple disciplines.

Dr Gritt's history research ranges widely across northern history from the early modern to the modern period. After completing his PhD on the agricultural development of south-west Lancashire, 1650-1850, his research has developed to incorporate a broader sweep of issues. This work combines to make Dr Gritt an authority on the long-term social and economic transformation of the north-west of England, including agriculture, industry, welfare, population history and landscape history. This is supported by extensive knowledge of the archival base.

Alongside Dr Gritt's work on the social and economic transformation of the industrial revolution period, he has developed considerable expertise in the field of family history. This incorporates an interest in the academic applicability of family history techniques, but also seeks to understand the deeper role that family history has in contemporary society.

Dr Gritt's current research has several strands, but is mainly focused on poverty and welfare in the period 1600-1900.

Poverty and poor law administration in Lancashire, c. 1834-1914

Dr Gritt is engaged in long-term research on poor law administration in 19th-century Lancashire. The first fruits of this research, a joint article with his co-researcher Peter Park, were published by Local Population Studies in 2011. The work has several related strands:

  • Poverty, politics and local administration. The New Poor Law of 1834 was not introduced into a political vacuum. Complex layers of local politics and allegiances had a profound affect not only on the implementation of the legislation, but on the nature of the evidence created.
  • Workhouse populations. Although a great deal has been written about the evolving legislative framework, the ideological conflicts over welfare systems and the local and central administration of welfare, much less has been written about the workhouse inmates. Who were they? How long did they stay? How frequently did they stay? What was the immediate cause of their poverty?
  • The lives of the poor. Individual pauper life histories can help to reveal the complexity of experience and help us to place formal welfare within a wider framework of public assistance, kin support, life cycle, charity and institutionalisation of the poor. Where does welfare fit in the lifetime experience of the poor? In what ways was gender a factor in welfare?
  • Poverty and the poor law in the rural north. The rural north sharply contrasts with the rural south in terms of standards of living, wages, employment levels and unrest. The New Poor Law was introduced into an entirely different context in the rural north compared with the rural south. We know relatively little about the role of the New Poor Law in northern rural society. Dr Gritt is combining his ongoing research into northern rural society with work on welfare to reveal new insights into this issue.
  • Workhouse museums. The representation of poverty and welfare in a museum and wider heritage context forms an important strand of Dr Gritt's research. This combines two interests: the history of poverty and welfare and the public understanding of history.

Agriculture, industry and landscape: the north west of England, 1650-1914

Dr Gritt is continuing his research on the economic and social history of the north west over an extended time period. Work here concentrates in several related areas:

  • Small holder economy and industrial change. Andy has recently published a detailed analysis of the account book of Richard Latham and work on small holders continues. It is clear that, contrary to the views of some, the small holding economy was vibrant, dynamic and fundamental to the industrializing process. Further work in this area is ongoing.
  • Landscape history. Dr Gritt is engaged in work on rural and urban landscapes across the north west region including upland and lowland drainage and land improvement in the 18th and 19th Centuries, and urban form and structure in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Gritt has supervised a number of postgraduate students to completion, and continues to supervise a range of topics.

Completed supervisions:

  • A rock or a hard place: the Poor Law Commission's migration scheme, 1835-37
  • Aspects of the Built environment of rural south-west Lancashire, c. 1880-1914
  • Community and neighbourliness: the topographic spread of the social and economic relationships in an early modern market town, Preston c. 1680-1740
  • Cotton and the community: north-east Lancashire, c. 1880-1939
  • Crisis in Lancashire: a survey of the 1720s demographic crisis
  • Farm mechanisation in SW Lancashire, c. 1945-1960
  • Implementing and administering the New Poor Law in Lancashire: a case study of Preston Union in regional context, 1837-1860
  • The life and career of Sir James Kay Shuttleworth: Perceptions of Class and the Social Development of Burnley
  • Three Cumbrian Villages – Land Ownership, Housing and Population – 1881 – 1911
  • Unmarried Motherhood, The Experience of Unmarried Mothers in Barrow and the Furness Area Post War 1945-2010.
  • Working class limited companies, c. 1860-1870

Current supervisions:

  • Museum conservation, digital media and the front of house
  • Critical approaches to the interpretation of literary heritage: Nottingham as City of Literature
  • The management of the health and social needs of displaced people during the Second World War

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate work towards an MPhil / PhD exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Doctoral School.

External activity

  • External Examiner, BA History, Bournemouth University, (2016-18)
  • Editor, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2012-2017)
  • External examiner, Online Postgraduate Diploma in Local History, Lancaster University (2011-13)
  • Member of the North West Regional Archives Council (2007- 2012)
  • Reviews Editor, Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2006-2012)
  • Council Member, of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2006-2018)
  • Treasurer, Local Population Studies (2004-2009)
  • Editorial board member, Local Population Studies (2004-2009)

Sponsors and collaborators

Dr Gritt has conducted collaborative research with:

  • Dr John Virgoe (Liverpool University), co-editor
  • Peter Park (independent scholar), co-author
  • Dr Lewis Darwen, Roehampton University
  • Dr Caroline Neilsen, Northampton University

He has extensive experience of working with museums and local voluntary organisations.

Press expertise

Dr Gritt can offer comment on employability, family history; northern history; industrialisation; agricultural history; museums, heritage, workhouses, poverty and welfare; and archives.