Place Studies (Work in progress)

As part of the new A-Level course, my class are studying ‘Changing Places’. It is refreshing and daunting to be teaching the quite challenging concepts involved with place. A further novel aspect of the new topic is the requirement of developing ‘place studies’ of a ‘local’ and ‘distant’ place.

Four themes to explore:

  • Similarity
  • Difference
  • Continuity
  • Change


Settling on a local place is more challenging that you’d expect. It has to be somewhere which students have direct experience of, yet it also has to be a relatively small place (the suggested population being in the 10,000-20,000 range). Add to this the need for a range of quantitative and qualitative sources to be available on the place and it became clear that we’d have to choose Warrington town centre. It is important to distinguish that it is the town centre and not the whole town. In actual fact, it is the electoral ward of Bewsey & Whitecross, which covers the town centre, with some reference to neighbouring wards.

Luckily in the age of Google, a huge amount of information is available digitally, not least from Warrington Borough Council. The plethora of quantitative data could be expected though. What is quite amazing, when doing the research, is the amount of articles, poems, stories, songs, photographs and paintings all about Warrington. So much so that it is quite a joy to piece all of the information together in a kind of geographical tapestry that shows a range of forces causing change over time.

Warrington Borough Council provides population facts and figures, including information about specific wards and population change. They also have a document about Warrington’s 2011 Census data.

There is a host of information about people, places, pubs and poetry to do with Warrington on All Things Warrington.


The idea of using Spitalfields as the distant place came as I was visiting London and stayed nearby, but still in Tower Hamlets. Visiting the British Library I saw Dan Cruickshank’s book on Spitalfields. With a little more research, it became clear that there was a plethora of information available to support a place study on Spitalfields and ‘Banglatown’, which would encompass Brick Lane.

A wonderful resource has been the Spitalfields Life blog, which has thousands of articles covering all aspects of place and incorporating a range of other visual and textual resources.

There are also websites about retail in Spitalfields – Spitalfields and Old Spitalfields Market, giving an insight into the local economy and also examples of representation of place.

Another useful website is the Spitalfields Forum – a group of residents trying to create a neighbourhood plan and protect Spitalfields from development. There are lots of useful resources, including videos and maps.

Statistics about Spitalfields and Banglatown are available from Tower Hamlets Borough Council and the Greater London Authority.

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