School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Martin Farr

Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary British History



I've been here since 2000, teaching, supervising, and researching post-1914 British history. With degrees in each, I straddle, more or less comfortably, the disciplines of history and politics, being particularly interested in promoting contemporary history and its applications.

I'm closely involved in outreach, widening participation, and engagement activities. For the School I’m Senior Tutor (concerned with overseeing pastoral care); for History I’m responsible for careers and alumni matters, and lead visit days and open days; for the University, I co-chair Insights Public Lectures, and am vice chair of the student hardship fund.


Born and raised in north London, I proceeded via secondary education in the home counties, undergraduate study in the west country, doctoral research in east central Scotland, and varied short-term and hourly contracts and appointments in and around London, before I arrived in the North East.

Term-time Office Hours

Tuesday 2-4, Wednesday 12-1; other times by arrangement

Roles and Responsibilities

Senior Tutor (School)

Alumni Officer (History)

Careers Officer (History)

Co-chair, Public Lectures

Deputy Chair, Hardship Fund  


B.A. (Politics), University of Exeter, 1993
Ph.D (History), University of Glasgow, 1998

Previous Positions

Lecturer, Workers’ Educational Association, 1999-
Tutor, Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford, 1999-2000
Archivist, Records Management Department, Public Record Office, Kew, 1999
Ghost-writer and researcher, The Lord Henniker, 1998-2000
Private tutor, history and politics, 1996-2000
Tutor, Department of Politics, University of Glasgow, 1994-1997
Tutor, Department of History, University of Glasgow 1994-1997


Royal Historical Society
Workers' Educational Association
Historical Association

Informal Interests

Cricket, football, music, books, travel, real ale, wine


Undergraduate Teaching 2014-15

HIS2124 A History of Contemporary Britain

Contributed to:

POL1000 Theory and Method in Politics and History (Global Governance and Institutions)
HIS1029 Varieties of History (Political History; Contemporary History; Biography and History)
HIS1030 Evidence and Argument (Bombing Germany 1940-)
HIS1044 Aspects of British History (First World War; Second World War; the Long 1960s; Thatcherism; Britishness)

HIS3030 History and Society (History and the Media; History and Politics)

HIS3010 Writing History (supervision in any aspects of British history since the First World War)

Postgraduate Teaching 2014-5

Contributed to:

HIS8105 Reform and Resistance in British history (The Politics of Sexuality: the Sexual Offences Act 1967; The Politics of Gender: the Abortion Act 1967

HIS8023 Dissertation
HIS8025 Pathway in British History (Declinism)
HIS8098 Dissertation Training

M.Litt, M.Phil, Ph.D (supervision in any aspects of British history since the First World War)


Past teaching

HIS3082 British Politics in the First World War
HIS3088 Labour in Power 1974-79

HIS3120 British Foreign Policy since Suez

HIS8011 Thatcherism


Contributed to:

HIS3008 Reading History (Correlli Barnett, The Lost Victory; Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians)
HIS8024 The Practice of History

ART8000 Faculty Research Training
HIS8000 Research Methods in History


Research Interests

Twentieth century and contemporary British politics
Political parties

I welcome enquiries from prospective research students in any aspects of British politics and public life since 1914. 

Current Work

I'm writing a book concerned with internationalising Thatcherism, entitled Margaret Thatcher's World, and have just finished writing an article on the decline of British coastal resorts for a book entitled Mass Tourism in One World, and a chapter on the leaderships of James Callaghan, Michael Foot, and Neil Kinnock for a book entitled Labour and the Left in the 1980s. I'm writing a chapter about imperial tropes in 1960s Britain for a Festschrift for John MacKenzie; an article on on the Representation of the People Act 1918 and the House of Commons for a special edition of Parliamentary History; an article on the deaths of Hugh Gaitskell and John Smith, a chapter on Barack Obama and David Cameron, and an article on the film Oh! What a Lovely War (1969).  

I've recently published articles on Liberal politics in the First World War, the 1918 General Election, and the Labour Party and strategic bombing in the Second World War, and have co-edited two volumes on the British Abroad which came out with Palgrave in October 2013: Travellers and Tourists and Experiencing Imperialism, in the former of which I've a chapter on British mass tourism.  In 2014 I was principal investigator for the North East and Cumbria on the AHRC/BBC project 'Our Place in the First World War' and remain involved. I also interview former MPs for the History of Parliament Oral History Project and head Britain and the World, which has a peer-reviewed journal, book series, and annual conference.

Future Research

International Thatcherism
The McKenna Papers, and the hotly-anticipated second volume of the biography.

Research Roles

British Scholar Society 

History of Parliament Oral History Project 

The National Archives User Advisory Group

Labour and Society Research Group

Military, War and Security Research Group

Industrial Relevance

Television: BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC News, BBC News 24, ITN, UKTV History, Tyne Tees TV, Dene Films, Border TV, More4, Press TV (Iran), Al Jazeera (London), Tokyo Broadcasting System News, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan), FNN News (Japan).

Radio: BBC World Service, BBC Radio Four, BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Newcastle, BBC Radio Gloucester, BBC Radio Cumbria, BBC Three Counties Radio, BBC Radio Sunderland, BBC Radio Leeds, LBC, Metro Radio (Newcastle), Talksport; National Public Radio (NPR, US), Newstalk (Ireland), Newstalk 93 FM (Jamaica), HOT102 FM (TODAY with Beverley Manley) (Jamaica), Polskie Radio PR1 (Poland), VIP Radio, SPARK FM, CityTalk FM, China International Radio.


National Archives Podcast Series, British Scholar Society Documentary Series Institute of Historical Research Podcast Series


Contributor: BBC History Magazine, The Times, The Guardian, The Journal, The Northern Echo, The Evening Chronicle, MSN, The Conversation, History & Policy, Politics and History.

Interviewee: New York Times, New York Daily News, Toronto Star, Christian Science Monitor, Sunday Sun, CSN News, The Economist, The Independent, Daily Mirror, The Sun, News of the World, Sunday Express, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Sunday Herald, Yorkshire Post, Harpers, O Globo (Brazil), Netherlands Press Association, Dziennik (Poland), Wprost (Poland), Pravda, Associated Press, Bloomberg, International Herald Tribune, Folha de S.Paulo (Brazil), Veja (Brazil), Rzeczpospolita (Poland), Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan), Mainichi Shimbun (Japan), To Vima (Greece), L'Avvenire (Italy).

Postgraduate Supervision


John Bagnall (PhD), The Falklands Conflict in International Perspective, 1982-

Stephen King (PhD), The Ministerial Career of Tony Crosland, 1964-1977

Andrew Marriott (PhD), Trench Art of the North East: Material Culture, Memory and Perception from the First World War to the Present

Stephen Moore, Luftwaffe Operations over the United Kingdom after May 1941

Bill Paxton, Shipbuilding in Newcastle between the wars


Collette McKenna (MLitt), A Prime Minister and her Foreign Secretaries, 1979-90

Nick Cott (PhD), Liberal Recruits to the Conservative Party, 1918-31

Melinda Sutton (PhD), The Labour Party and Northern Ireland, 1969-97

David Thompson (MLitt), The Durham Light Infantry in the First World War

Gordon Beckwith (MLitt), British Defence Policy since 1945

Adam Gillett (MLitt), British Party Politics, 1910-24

Gordon Leigh (MLitt), Newcastle Jewry, 1900-2000

Dean Blackburn (MLitt), The centre-left of British party politics, 1972-87

Gordon Kell (MLitt), Manpower, Empire and Warfare, 1890-22

John Shackleton (MLitt), Trades Unions and the Labour Party, 1906-2009

Lisa Snoxell (MLitt), Women and British politics, 1901-18

Andriana Georgiou (MLitt), Fascism in Britain, 1932-40

Steven Bainbridge (MLitt), The Conservative Party and Thatcherism

Stephen Dippnall (MLitt), The Labour Party and the U.S.A., 1945-2010

David Linden (MLitt), The ‘New Right’ in Britain, 1970-90

Conference Papers

Barack Obama and David Cameron, Presidents and Premiers, Newcastle Unversity, 26-7 May 2017

'"A Stone Age head protruding from a Dragoon Guard’s tunic”: imperial tropes in British popular culture since the end of Empire’’, Festschrift Conference in honour of Professor John M. MacKenzie, Burn House, Edzell, 6-10 July 2016

‘When party leaders die’, Breaking Boundaries: Politics, History and the wider inter-disciplinary challenges; University of Birmingham, 29 June 2016

‘International interpretations of Thatcherism, 1981-90’, 27th Annual Conference of the British International History Group, University of Kent,  10-12 September 2015

‘Thatcherism, Reaganomics, and international conservatism’, Rethinking Conservatism and conservatism, workshop, Durham University, 16 June 2015

‘The Thatcher-Reagan Era in a Trans-Atlantic Context, Britain and the World Conference, Austin TX, 2-4 April 2015

‘Thatcherism beyond Britain’, Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies, Exploring Ideological Translation: An Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Nottingham, 9-11 July 2014

War and Peace: Diplomacy, Espionage and the First World War, The National Archives, 28 June 2014, The Road to War: At home and abroad – Propaganda and intelligence

Urban regeneration and the policy process, 1970-79, The Transformation of Urban Britain since 1945, Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, 9 July 2013

John Smith and Hugh Gaitskell, Modern British History Conference, Edinburgh University, 11 June 2013

Death and Labour: the cases of Hugh Gaitskell and John Smith, British Scholar Conference, Austin Texas, 22 March 2013

'The Politics of Bombing: Harris, Sinclair and the RAF bomber offensive', Airpower and Archives Workshop, RAF Museum, Hendon, 22 March 2013

‘Margaret Thatcher’s World’, Leeds University, Department of History, research seminar, 31 October 2012.

Margaret Thatcher’s World, Conference on Modern British History, University of Stirling, 19 June 1012

‘Beyond the Grave: The Legacy of International Activists in a Transnational Context. The Case of Flora Tristan, Guido Miglioli, Ellen Wilkinson and Emile Pouget, European Social Science History Conference, Glasgow, 11-14 April 2012, chair and discussant

‘The Labour Party and Bombing in the Second World War’, British Scholar Conference, Austin, Texas, March 2011.

‘South Wales and the General Election of 1918’, University of Wales, Newport, research seminar, 23 March 2011.

‘Reginald McKenna and the 1918 Election’, Années de Gloire – Années de Déclin: le Parti Libéral Britannique, 1906-1924, Colloque International, Université de Rouen, 13-14 January 2011

‘Historicizing British Culture, Nostalgia, and Consciousness in the Twentieth Century’, Chair and Discusssant, British Scholar Conference, Austin, Texas, USA, 27 March 2010.

‘Barabbas chosen’: war and the cultural shift, 1916-1919; British Scholar Conference, University of Texas at Austin, Texas, USA, 20 February 2009.

‘Liberals, War and Peace, 1916-1919’, Southern Conference on British Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana, 10 October 2008.

‘Reginald McKenna: a Study in Ministerial Liberalism’, The 1906 Election and the legacy of the Last Liberal Governments, Colloquium, Institute of Historical Research, London, 1 July 2006.

‘Politicians at War: Crisis and Methodology’, Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies, 26 March 2006, University of California, Irvine, USA.

‘High Politics in an Age of Devolution’, Northeast Conference on British Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 22 October 2005, USA.

‘Bridget Plowden and the IBA’, The History of the Media, 19th Annual Summer Centre for Contemporary British History Conference, Senate House, University of London, 29 June-1 July 2005.

‘S.W.1 and Devolution: the Centre Circumscribing the Periphery’, New Directions in Modern British Political History, c. 1867-2005, Institute for Historical Research, London, 8 April 2005.

'Cann MacKenna in Edwardian Britain’, Fifth Australian Celtic Conference, University of Sydney, Australia, 22 July 2004.

‘The Wartime Career of Josiah Wedgwood’, (Discussant), Second European Conference in First World War Studies, Maison Française, University of Oxford, 23 & 24 June 2003.

‘Reginald McKenna: A Study in Historiography’, Western Conference on British Studies, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, 5 October 2002.

‘Politicians at War 1915-1916’, at Power, Personality and Persuasion: The Impact of the Individual on British Politics since 1867, University of Manchester, 26 June 2002.

‘The Bank and Midland: City politics between the wars’, at The Power to Influence: The British Government and the City of London, University of Durham, September 2001.

‘The Prism of British Strategy 1915-1916’, Mars in Ascendant: The Great War and the Twentieth Century, Imperial War Museum, August 2001.

‘Pomp and Circumstance: The Diamond Jubilee of 1897’, The 1890s, University of Newcastle, July 2001.

Esteem Indicators

General Editor, British Scholar Society
Reader for Routledge, Blackwell, Cambridge University Press, Labour History Review, Journal of Historical Biography, Britain and the World
External Examiner, BA History, University of Wales, Newport; MA Contemporary History, Kings College London

AQA HE Expert Panel on A Level reform, 2012-

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society


British, Britain, political history, politics, government, institutions, parties, media, foreign policy, monarchy

Barack Obama and David Cameron, Presidents and Premiers, Newcastle Unversity, 26-7 May 2017