Centre for European and International Studies Research

PhD profile

Ms Melanie Bassett

  • Role Title: PhD Student
  • Address: Park Building, King Henry 1 Street, Portsmouth PO1 2DZ
  • Telephone:
  • Email: melanie.bassett@port.ac.uk
  • Department: Centre for European and International Studies Research
  • Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


The Royal Dockyard Worker in Edwardian England: Culture, Leisure and Empire.

The historiography of dockyard workers has tended to focus on industrial relations and working conditions inside the Royal Dockyards and there is a general assumption that the Royal Dockyard Workers were deferential, subservient and politically conservative. This PhD will explore the lives of the Royal Dockyard worker outside the Dockyard walls. Research has yet to establish whether the sectional divisions and social and cultural hierarchies present in the workplace were replicated in the wider community.  This study aims to trace the leisure activities patronised by dockyard workers through an investigation of commercial leisure opportunities, public ceremony and celebration, living patterns, clubs and societies patronised and examples of worker-created leisure opportunities during the Edwardian period. Crucially, it will assess their attitudes to their right to take part in the expanding opportunities for recreation, in what forms they did so, and the key issue of how their patterns of leisure reflected their attitudes towards the British Empire and their own role in it.

Recent debate on the impact that imperialism had on the British public has split academics; the thesis aims to contribute to the debate and enhance the understanding of British working class culture and identity in the period of ‘high imperialism’. The movement away from a monolithic, one-size fits all explanation of British society is producing a tendency towards creating a more nuanced and specialised understanding of British social history. Through the use of local sources and an exploration of the themes at a local level the PhD will demonstrate how concepts of imperialism and recreation manifested themselves in the everyday lives of the British public.

The PhD Studentship is part-funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Trust.