Staff Profiles

Meet the PTUC Team!

Centre Director

Brad Beaven

brad_beavenBrad Beaven is Professor in Social and Cultural History and has worked at the University of Portsmouth since 1994.  He has published widely on urban popular culture in Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is author of Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Culture, 1850-1945 (2005), Visions of Empire: Patriotism, Popular Culture and the City, 1850-1939 (2012) and Dickens and the Victorian City (with Patricia Pulham, 2012). He has contributed on working-class leisure for both BBC radio and television programmes, most recently, The Golden Age of Coach Travel (2011) and British Passions on Film (2012).

Brad is the Port Towns and Urban Cultures Project Leader and is currently researching port-town urban culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, focusing on the topography of sailortowns. Brad is an experienced doctoral supervisor and welcomes PhD applicants interested in popular culture and the city c.1800 – 1945. Follow Brad @BradJBeaven

See all of Brad’s publications here. See Brad’s posts on this website


Staff members

Karl Bell

karl_bellDr Karl Bell is Reader in History. His research interests revolve around aspects of the fantastical imagination in the nineteenth century. He has published work on magic, witchcraft, urban folklore, millenarianism, and supernatural readings of landscape. His first book, The Magical Imagination: Magic and Modernity in Urban England, 1780-1914 (2012) has been shortlisted for the 2012 Whitfield Prize. He is also the author of The Legend of Spring-heeled Jack: Victorian Urban Folklore and Popular Cultures (2012).

Karl’s interests within the Port Towns project relate to local ghost lore, spatial narratives, and popular urban mentalities. He is currently developing work on invasion scares and future war fiction in nineteenth-century port towns. He would be happy to hear from potential PhD candidates who would like to work in any of these areas. Follow Karl @drkarlbell

See all of Karl’s publications here

Matthew Heaslip

Dr Matthew Heaslip is a Lecturer in Naval History. His research focuses upon the twentieth century Royal Navy and its role within Britain’s wider imperial system, during both peace and war. He recently had a journal article entitled ‘Britain’s armed forces and amphibious operations in peace and war 1919-1939: A Gallipoli Curse?’ published in the Journal of Strategic Studies.

Matthew’s current research explores how the Royal Navy actually used its dominance at sea in East Asia to project power over other nations on a day-to-day basis through gunboat diplomacy, amphibious operations, and imperial policing. In particular, the role and experiences of those who served on the interwar China Station and the people they encountered, and what this all meant for the British Empire as a whole and the individuals themselves.

Rob James

rob_james Dr Rob James is Senior Lecturer in History. His research interests centre on British society’s leisure habits, in particular the relationship between leisure provision and consumption in the early twentieth century. He is author of Popular Culture and Working-Class Taste in Britain 1930-39: a round of cheap diversions? (2010), and numerous articles on aspects of popular taste and cinema-going in Britain, including ‘Cinema-going in a Port Town, 1914-1951: Film booking patterns at the Queens Cinema, Portsmouth, UK’, Urban History, 40.2, 2013.

Rob’s current research project investigates leisure provision and consumption in British port towns in the first half of the twentieth century. It assesses the responses of civic elites to the growing number of leisure activities on offer in these towns, and the ways in which the townspeople participated in them. He welcomes prospective PhD applicants interested in any aspect of popular culture in twentieth century Britain. Follow Rob @RobJames68

See all of Rob’s publications here. Read Rob’s posts on the website

Margarette Lincoln

Dr Margarette Lincoln is a Visiting Researcher at the University of Portsmouth. Her latest book, London and the 17th Century: The Making of the World’s Greatest City was published by Yale in 2021. She is Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, where she was Deputy Director until 2015, and was a Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London from 2015 to 2020. Her previous books include Trading in War, about 18th-century maritime London, which was nominated for the 2019 Wolfson History Prize and named London Historians’ Book of the Year; British Pirates and Society, 1680–1730 (2014); and the catalogue for the Museum’s special exhibition, Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution, edited in 2015.

Her current research project focuses on women from 1650 to the present. A social and cultural history within an urban context, it explores the lives of women at all levels of society and looks at changes in British society through their experiences. It will touch on such topics as imperialism, working-class culture, leisure history, sea bathing, and the urban environment.

Rudolph Ng

Dr Rudolph Ng is Lecturer in Global History. His research interests revolve around global migration in the nineteenth century and its relations to concepts of humanitarianism and labour rights. Currently, he is preparing a book manuscript on the history of Chinese migration to Cuba, Peru, and Chile during the nineteenth century, when the Chinese labourers essentially replaced the dwindling population of African slaves post-abolitionist movement. He has taught various courses on Modern China, Modern Japan, and the Cold War on both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Prior to assuming the lectureship at Portsmouth, he was Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Lecturer in Modern Chinese History at Birkbeck, University of London.

Cathryn Pearce

Dr Cathryn Pearce is a Part-time Senior Lecturer for the MA Naval History programme. She previously taught maritime history at the University of Greenwich, and was formerly an Associate Professor of History at University of Alaska Anchorage. Her research focuses on coastal communities responses to shipwrecks on their shores during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is author of Cornish Wrecking: Reality and Popular Myth, 1700-1860 (2010), and she has contributed to BBC television programmes such as Timewatch: The Wreckers and Timeshift: Shipwrecks, as well as BBC Radio 4’s ‘Making History’ programme. In her spare time, Cathryn is on the Society for Nautical Research (SNR) Council and she serves on the editorial board of the SNR’s INT-1 journal, The Mariner’s Mirror. She is also Chair and Trustee of the British Commission for Maritime History, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the Navy Records Society.

Cathryn’s current research focuses on the history of lifesaving and coastal communities, with particular emphasis on the role of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society, founded by some of the most important naval officers of the nineteenth century. See a selection of Cathryn’s publications here. Follow Cathryn @CathrynPearce

Mathias Seiter

Mathias_SeiterDr Mathias Seiter is Senior Lecturer in History. His research on Central Europe during the long 19th century focuses on liminal spaces such as port towns and borderlands as well as on identity formation, nation building, public health, and German-Jewish history. His current project on port towns explores the history of German naval towns such as Kiel and Wilhelmshaven as well as of colonial ports which were frequented by German naval sailors between the 1860s and 1918. The research assesses the interplay and connectedness of various identities which existed within these port towns and maps how urban spaces such as sailortowns were constructed and perceived. See all of Mathias’ publications here.

Research Fellow

Melanie Bassett

Melanie Bassett

Dr Melanie Bassett is a Faculty Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth. She manages the PTUC website and social media outputs alongside undertaking her own research on port towns. Her PhD research, ‘The Royal Dockyard Worker in Edwardian England: Culture, Leisure and Empire’ re-examined the concept of a monolithic imperial identity and tracked the nuances of working-class imperialism. Her current research expands on her original thesis to explore the affect of empire on those workers who went to work in the Royal Dockyards abroad such as Bermuda, Malta, Gibraltar and Hong Kong.

She has worked with Professor Brad Beaven on a number of WW1 projects, including ‘Mapping the National Impact of the Jutland Battle: Civic and Community Responses during the First World War’ and ‘Lest We Forget’ in partnership with Portsmouth City Museum, which culminated in a large-scale exhibition that commemorated the ways that Portsmouth and its people experienced the War. Mel previously worked in museums and was employed at Portsmouth City Museum and the Royal Naval Museum. Prior to becoming Faculty Research Fellow she was Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded War Widows’ Stories project at Liverpool John Moores University. Follow Melanie @melanie_bassett See Melanie’s posts on this website

PhD Candidates

John Bolt

John Bolt is a full-time PhD candidate at the University of Portsmouth. His research focus is on the social history of the Royal Marines, principally in the nineteenth century, and aims to demonstrate how the organizational culture of the Royal Marine Corps and its unique military identity developed in the Royal Dockyard cities of Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth. Now a resident of Portsmouth, John is originally a native of the United States from the Greater Boston area. Since moving to Portsmouth, John has volunteered as an archivist with the Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth, and has also worked as a project manager on the exhibition, “36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won the War”, at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. John also assists with the MA Naval History at the University of Portsmouth. John earned his BA History from the Virginia Military Institute, and his MA History (Merit) from the University of Portsmouth. Prior to undertaking further studies in history, John has most recently served as a United States Marine Corps Officer, having served as an infantry officer, intelligence officer, and as a military advisor. John’s research interests include the examination of the evolution of military cultures, the historical treatment of military veterans, and civil-military relations in urban port town communities. Follow John @JD_Bolt and at See John’s posts on this website

Ida Jørgensen

Ida Jørgensen is currently writing her PhD on European shipbuilding in the 18th century. She holds a master’s degree in naval history from University of Copenhagen (2014) and another in maritime archaeology from University of Southern Denmark (2016). In her research, Ida focuses on the technology behind naval shipbuilding in 18th century Europe and the international links between the European naval nations of the time. The research examines the exchange of technology, mainly clandestine, in a period affected by conflict and political instability. It attempts to put into perspective the European relations in today’s time of coherence.

With former employment in the reals of Danish museums and maritime archaeology, Ida are an experienced presenter of history as well as an archaeological surveyor in the field. See Ida’s posts on this website

Ivana Lam

Ivana Lam is a full time doctoral candidate at the University of Portsmouth, researching the history of the British military and naval medicine in China from 1839 to 1900. She will analyse how medicine and hygienic practices in the British Army and Royal Navy changed during this period and the effects of these reforms on mortality and morbidity rates, especially in relation to the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion. Her work draws upon various sources including papers from the War Office and Admiralty archives, newspapers, parliamentary proceedings, annual health reports, and detailed notes from surgeons who record treatments given to soldiers and sailors and measures taken to preserve their health. Particular attention will be paid to British public opinion; which was becoming increasingly concerned about the health of servicemen and the preservation of the British empire. Ivana’s thesis will also explore how the conflicts in China affected the way the British came to view China and its people, and how they took care of its armed forces in military garrisons such as that in Hong Kong. This work follows from her recently completed MRes in Humanities and Social Sciences (History) at the University of Portsmouth. Ivana’s research interests include the history of health, medicine, epidemic diseases, the British experience in China, the British empire, and the British armed forces.

Rhys Phillips

Rhys Phillips is a part-time Doctoral Candidate at the University of Portsmouth, completing a PhD thesis entitled ‘The forgotten volunteers: the role of the Sea Fencibles during the British response to the threat of Napoleonic invasion, 1798-1810’. His wider research interests include the ‘experience’ of the invasion threat in port town communities, and the subsequent state mounted countermeasures that followed. He is also keen to explore the varying motivations, class, and identity of the Georgian maritime volunteers. In January 2017, Rhys delivered a paper on the same topic to the Portsmouth Historical Association. See Rhys’ posts on this website. Follow Rhys @RhysPOspreys

Jenna Twyford-Jones

Jenna Twyford-Jones is a Doctoral Candidate, working on the nineteenth and early-twentieth century history of Tiger Bay, Cardiff’s ‘Sailortown.’ Her research explores the relationship between the residential and working community of Tiger Bay with the rest of the Cardiff city region, with particular attention to the contemporary media portrayal of this multicultural, multinational ‘Sailortown.’ The types of work the community engaged in, their leisure pursuits, civic life, social interactions, and familial ties all contribute to this research. This work follows on from her recently completed MA with Distinction in History from the Open University. Jenna’s wider historical interests include Black British and Anglo-Jewish history, as well as the history of immigration as a whole, especially to south Wales. Blog: Twitter: @JRTwyfordJones Instagram: @porttownpics

See Jenna’s posts on this website