Dr Trevor Griffiths (D.Phil.)

Reader; Economic and Social History


Born and raised in Burnley, Lancashire, I was educated at Towneley Comprehensive School, and Burnley Grammar School, before going on Trinity College, Oxford, from which I graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Modern History. I returned to Trinity for my postgraduate studies, the resulting doctoral  thesis providing the basis for my Oxford Historical Monograph on The Lancashire Working Classes, 1880-1930, a work selected by one discerning critic as one of the History Books of the Year in the BBC History Magazine in 2002.

While completing my doctorate, I became a research associate with Professor P.K. O’Brien, then Director of the Institute of Historical Research, on a project investigating the origins of technological progress in Britain over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Appointed Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Edinburgh in 1994, on a one-year contract, and subsequently proved so difficult to get rid of that the appointment was made permanent in 2000. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2004. For longer than I care to remember, I was Quality Assurance Officer for Economic and Social History, and then for the School of History and Classics, before becoming in 2010 the Head of the Economic and Social History section within the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.  

In  recent years, I have turned a long-standing passion for old, black and white films into a research interest, enabling me to justify long hours spent watching the films of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy, among others.

Undergraduate teaching

  • British Society in the Twentieth Century (Social History 1.2).
  • British Economic and Environmental History since 1900.
  • Leisure and the Rise of Industrial Society in Britain, c.1780-1880.
  • Society in an Age of ‘Mass’ Leisure, c.1880-1939.

Postgraduate teaching

  • Cinema and Society in Britain from 1896.

Current PhD students supervised

Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type

     - PhD - British Crime Cinema and its reception 1945 - 1960 - Primary

Merz, Caroline - PhD - Early cinema in Scotland; production - Primary

Salters, Audrey - PhD - 'This was their world : British Baptists in China 1937 - 52' - Primary

     - PhD - Suspected New-born Child Murder and Concealment of Pregnancy in Scotland 1812-1930 - Primary

Past PhD students supervised

Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type - Completion year

Siddons, Timothy - MScR - Suspected New-born Child Murder and Concealment of Pregnancy in Scotland 1812-1930 - Primary - 2007

Fisher, Timothy - PhD - Fatherhood and the experience of working-class fathers in Britain, 1900-1938 - Secondary - 2006

Research summary


  • Britain & Ireland
  • Scotland


  • Culture
  • Economic History
  • Gender
  • Society


  • Eighteenth Century
  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

Research interests

  • History of leisure in Britain since the Industrial Revolution.
  • History of working-class culture.
  • History of cinema.
  • History of sport.

Current research interests

Currently engaged in writing a monograph on cinema and cinema-going in Scotland in the years to 1950. Also engaged on research into the practices accompanying film exhibition in the silent era of cinema (to 1929).

Project activity

  • Cinema and cinema-going in Scotland in the first half of the twentieth century.
  • The Sounds of Early Cinema: Scotland, 1896-1929

The list below is a subset of the information held on the University of Edinburgh PURE system, and includes Books, Chapters, Articles and Conference contributions. For a full list, including details of other publication types (e.g. reviews), please see the Edinburgh Research Explorer page for Dr Trevor Griffiths.

Books - Authored

Caughie, J., Griffiths, T. and Vélez-Serna, M. (2018) Early Cinema in Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University PressDOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420341.001.0001

Griffiths, T. (2012) The Cinema and Cinema-going in Scotland, 1896 - C. 1950. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Books - Edited

Griffiths, T. and Morton, G. (eds.) (2010) A History of Everyday Life in Scotland, 1800 to 1900. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press


Griffiths, T. (2019) Quantifying an 'essential social habit': The entertainments tax and cinema-going in Britain, 1916-34. Film History, 31(1), pp. 1-26DOI: https://doi.org/10.2979/filmhistory.31.1.0001

Griffiths, T. and Morton, G. (2013) Closing the Door on Modern Scotland’s Gilded Cage. The Scottish Historical Review, 92, pp. 49-69DOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/shr.2013.0167

Griffiths, T. (2008) Scottish, Irish and Imperial Connections: Parliament, the Three Kingdoms, and the mechanisation of cotton spinning in eighteenth-century Britain. Economic History Review, 61(3), pp. 625-50DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2007.00414.x

Griffiths, T. (2005) Power, Knowledge and Society in the City. Journal of Urban History, 32 (1)DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0096144205279204

Griffiths, T. (1996) Theories of technological progress and the British textile industry from kay to cartwright. Revista de Historia Economica, Ano XIV, No 3, pp. 533-55

Griffiths, T. (1992) Inventive activity in the British textile industry, 1700-1800. The Journal of Economic History, 52, pp. 155-76

Griffiths, T. (1991) Political Components of the industrial revolution: parliament and the gnlish cotton textile industry, 1660-1774. Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 44, pp. 395-423


Griffiths, T. (2019) Making a living at the cinema: Scottish cinema staff in the silent era. In: Caughie, J., Griffiths, T. and Velez-Serna, M. (eds.) Early Cinema in Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 68-90DOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420341.003.0005

Caughie, J., Griffiths, T. and Vélez-Serna, M. (2018) Introduction. In: Caughie, J., Griffiths, T. and Vélez-Serna, M. (eds.) Early Cinema in Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University PressDOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420341.003.0001

Griffiths, T. (2018) The talkies triumphant: Scottish cinema and the coming of sound. In: Caughie, J., Griffiths, T. and Velez-Serna, M. (eds.) Early Cinema in Scotland. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 166-187

Griffiths, T. (2015) Scottish cinema-goers at war: The popular reception of British and Scottish films during the Second World War. In: Ugolini, W. and Pattinson, J. (eds.) Fighting for Britain? Negotiating Identities in Britain During the Second World War. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 137-160

Griffiths, T. (2013) Sounding Scottish: Sound Practices and Silent Cinema in Scotland. In: Brown, J. and Davison, A. (eds.) The Sounds of the Silents in Britain. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 72-91

Griffiths, T. (2005) Charles Allen Clarke (1863-1935), Socialist, Journalist, Novelist and Dialect Sketch Writer. In: Matthew, H. and Harrison, B. (eds.) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, pp. on-line

Griffiths, T. (1998) The curious history and immiment demise of the "challenge and response" model: explaining technological change in the British cotton textile industry from the flying shuttle to the self-acting mule. In: M Berg, K. (ed.) Technological Revolutions in Europe: Historical Perspectives. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., pp. 119-37

Griffiths, T. (1996) Technological change during the first industrial revolution: the paradigm case of textiles, 1688-1851. In: Fox, R. (ed.) Technological Change: Methods and Themes in the History of Technology. Routledge, pp. 155-76

Griffiths, T. (1996) Work, class and community: social identities and political change in the lancashire coalfield, 1910-39. In: Campbell, A., Fishman, N. and Howell, D. (eds.) Miners, Unions and Politics, 1910-47. Ashgate Publishing, pp. 199-222