Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust announces new PhD studentship exploring the identity of Telford and the Ironbridge Gorge

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and Keele University, in partnership with the University of Manchester, are pleased to announce a new PhD studentship funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The PhD will explore the identity of Telford and the Ironbridge Gorge from the new town’s launch in 1968 up to the present day.

The museums and heritage sites in the Ironbridge Gorge are best known for their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century innovation, engineering and industrial history. However, there is also a more recent story of historical significance to be told: of post-war planning, technology and the ‘great acceleration’ which culminated in 1968 in the new town of Telford, and saw the industrial communities of Ironbridge redefined as a cultural artifact.

The PhD, entitled ‘Forging Identities: Telford and the Ironbridge Gorge c. 1968-2023’, is expected to explore subjects including the role of Telford’s past in the post-war development of the new town, as well as providing new perspectives on the difficulties faced by World Heritage Sites in catering to both global audiences and local identities. It will be supervised collaboratively by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and Keele University.

Dr Mike Nevell, Industrial Heritage Support Officer for England, IGMT, said: “Collaborating with IGMT and local communities, we want this student to investigate the complex symbiosis between Telford and Ironbridge since the late 1960s. We would like the stories of people in Telford to become a part of Ironbridge’s rich narrative. The research will help us answer questions about the use of heritage by new towns and their populations and the challenges World Heritage Sites face in engaging both local and global audiences.”

Dr Ben Anderson, Keele University, said: “For the successful PhD student, this is an exciting opportunity to work with one of the UK’s most significant World Heritage Sites on a project with the potential to tackle significant questions in the fields of twentieth-century British history, critical heritage and community history. We are looking forward to hearing what they find.”

The PhD is offered under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award programme within the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership. The student will be supervised by Dr Ben Anderson (Keele University), Dr Charlotte Wildman (University of Manchester), and Dr Mike Nevell (Industrial Heritage Support Officer for England, IGMT). The full-time studentship, which is funded for 3.5 years at standard AHRC rates, will begin on 1 September 2024.

Applications are now open. For information or informal enquiries about the studentship, please contact Dr Ben Anderson ( Enquiries about the application process should be directed to ( Applicants can apply via the Keele University website at Applications must be received by 5pm on 20 March. Interviews will take place on the 26 or 27 March.

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