Peter Searby obituary


Peter Searby, who has died aged 93, started his working life as a faculty instructor and later grew to become a lecturer in historical past on the College of Cambridge and a fellow of Fitzwilliam Faculty.

There he launched into the 10-year effort that resulted within the publication in 1997 of A Historical past of the College of Cambridge, Vol. III, 1750-1870, a magisterial account of the college’s growth throughout a interval of unprecedented change.

I had the nice fortune to be Peter’s pupil when he was head of historical past within the Nineteen Fifties at one of many new comprehensives, Caludon Fort college, in Coventry. I used to be later to show on the Liverpool Institute highschool, which Peter had attended through the second world conflict. This created a typical bond between us which, after we met once more 20 years in the past, led to many subsequent pleased conferences.

Peter was born in Liverpool, the son of Arthur, a delivery clerk, and Elsie. Following a historical past diploma from Liverpool College he taught within the metropolis, and in 1959 moved to Coventry to take up his submit at Caludon. Whilst a younger instructor, he mixed a quiet authority with a real concern for particular person pupils.

From there he went to lecture on the Metropolis of Coventry instructor coaching faculty and, within the mid-Sixties, did a PhD on the lately opened Warwick College beneath the supervision of the main authority on working-class historical past, EP Thompson. Peter himself developed a eager curiosity within the Coventry Chartists and have become chair of the native department of the Historical past Affiliation, pioneering an essential sequence of booklets.

In 1956 he had married Norma Griffiths, and in 1968 they and their younger household moved to Cambridge. There he continued his work on Victorian Coventry and began his analysis on the college historical past.

After leaving Cambridge in 1994, Peter was a visiting professor at Greenwich College, south-east London, for 2 years. In later life, his educational pursuits shifted to his dad and mom’ period and, particularly, to the house entrance through the second world conflict. With Robert Malcolmson, whom he had met at Warwick, he edited two Mass Remark diaries, and he was the only editor of a 3rd, Cambridge at Battle: The Diary of Jack Overhill, 1939-1945 (2010).

All through his working life Peter would cycle to work, and household holidays have been usually spent beneath canvas.

He’s survived by Norma, their kids, Catherine, Shelagh and Joe, and grandsons, Ruaridh, Wilfred and Arthur.


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