Get Adobe Reader
Site map

Monday 12 April (2pm)
The Society’s 68th Annual General Meeting

Papers for the AGM (PDFs):

Please register for the AGM, which will be held via Zoom, using the form below: you will be sent a link via email and can join at any time during the afternoon. Please keep yourself on mute during the presentations. Non-members are welcome to attend the session from 2pm to 4.30 pm but must leave before the AGM starts.

2.00: Session 1
Dr Harvey Osborne (University College Suffolk), ‘The changing meaning of Salmon: Environmental crisis and social conflict in Victorian Britain’.

Inland and estuarine salmon fishing rights have historically been a valuable form of property in Great Britain and Ireland. However, changes in agricultural practices, obstructions, pollution, and over-exploitation caused salmon populations to collapse within some river systems during the early Victorian period, triggering a resultant decline in the productivity and value of fisheries. This paper will explore the causes of this catastrophe and will also highlight governmental responses, notably in the form of the Salmon Acts of 1861 and 1865. Intervention to ameliorate the environmental and exploitative factors which had reduced the productivity of the salmon fisheries involved the construction of the ‘salmon problem’ as a question of national interest, rather than simply the narrow sectional concern of landed proprietors.  Policies to reinvigorate salmon populations, both for food and sport, inevitably involved efforts to extinguish popular and often customary exploitation of the salmon, frequently leading to conflict between policing agencies and local populations. 
Harvey Osborne is Course Leader for History at the University of Suffolk. His most recent publications have focussed on workhouse disorder in early-Victorian England and nineteenth-century poaching crime. He has a long-standing interest in the environmental and social history of the salmon fisheries of Great Britain.

Dr Mary Fraser (University of Glasgow), ‘Police as Ploughmen in 1917/18: How Britain’s policemen helped local populations by temporary release into agriculture’.

Feeding the population during 1917-18 was handled better in Britain than in other combatant nations. From January 1917 Britain’s 81% reliance on grain imports was jeopardised by unrestricted submarine warfare and the severe winter, making starvation imminent for 80% of the population. With soaring prices and dwindling supplies of staple foods including bread and potatoes, the population became alarmed. Government took control of farming, organising ploughing fallow land and pasture to grow crops urgently. Farmers were initially unable to help as many agricultural workers had left the land. A previously unrecognised sector with prior agricultural skills, the all-male police force, provided substitutes in Spring 1917. Most worked locally and were accepted by farmers. A police journal recorded around 600 from nineteen cities/towns/areas across Britain, some loaned throughout 1917/18 or released again for harvest. Initially they supplemented soldiers on furlough. By autumn 1917 arable land increased around 1,000,000 acres, producing over 4,000,000 more tons of crops. Harvest 1918 increases were nearly 3,000,000 acres, crop production rose 38%-68% compared with 1916.
Mary Fraser has been researching the history of police work in Britain for the last 10 years. Her current focus is 1900-1920, starting with the First World War. The sources are police popular journals which show the details of how the ordinary policemen talked about their lives and work with their problems and daily struggles as well as portrayals of how the good policemen should behave. She is currently developing ‘Police as Ploughmen in 1917-18’, into a national study and aim to follow this with other work showing the extended social role of the British police. She has published Policing the Home Front, 1914-1918: The control of the British population at war (2019).
3.00: Session 2
Professor Annie Tindley (University of Newcastle upon Tyne), ‘Landed responses to land reform in Scotland and Ireland, c. 1860 to 1903’
This paper examines how the landed and aristocratic classes responded to the challenge of legislative land reform in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It looks at their conceptions of land and property, their responses to the legislative challenges made to those assumptions and how they organised themselves as a body in an attempt to neutralise or slow down the pace of reform. This analysis will take place against the wider context of political, social, economic and territorial changes faced by the landed classes in this period, commonly identified as one of decline, if not outright fall. How far did legislative land reform play a part in this decline, or was it just one of a range of symptoms of the wider malaise affecting the landed in Britain and Ireland and elsewhere in Europe? Lastly, the role played by the British Empire in landed responses to land issues will be touched on: was it a refuge or a further field in which radical land reform was being played out to the disadvantage of traditional landed elites?
Annie Tindley is Professor of British and Irish Rural History and Head of the School of History, Classics & Archaeology at Newcastle University. Her first book was The Sutherland Estate, 1850-1920: aristocratic decline, estate management and land reform (2010): amongst her many subsequent publications on estate management and Scottish rural history is the forthcoming Land Reform in Scotland: History, Law and Policy which she has co-edited.
4.00: award of the Thirsk Prize, 2021
4.15: Book Launch
R. W Hoyle (ed.), Histories of people and landscapes. Essays on the Sheffield region in memory of David Hey (University of Hertfordshire Press).
4.30 The Society’s AGM
Advanced notice of the AGM was circulated to members and is available here [PDF].

The videos of the presentations are now available on our YouTube channel. We encourage you to subscribe to our channel so that you will receive notifications when we add new videos. And please don't forget to 'Like' the videos as well as watch them!

thumbnail of videos