Sporting Heritage AHRC Research

Sporting Heritage is committed to developing a research hub which supports a wider understanding of the sector and its relevance to society, and the development of world-class research which involves true partnerships between academics and practitioners.

To do this, we are working with a range of Higher Education Institutions across the country and internationally to draw together key stakeholders from within academia and practice to share knowledge, ideas, and opportunities. We are working to increase an understanding of the necessity to work in partnership across both academic and practice sectors and establish  a clear strategy to benefit our understanding and support of sporting heritage in the UK.

Our key aims are:

  1. Develop a strategic over-arching group of stakeholders which supports cross-fertilisation and programming between academia and practice
  2. Lever in investment which supports ground-breaking research demonstrating the value of partnership projects
  3. Support professionals working within the sector, or who wish to work within the sector, to develop their knowledge and understanding of sporting heritage and the opportunities available to them within both practice and academia
  4. Increase awareness of those from outside of the sector of the opportunities provided by working with sporting heritage collections, research and programmes

As part of this activity we are currently delivering a programme of Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDPs) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

These partnerships fund research studentships led by a museum, library, archive or heritage organisation, or group of organisations, to develop collaborative projects that support their work and objectives

New for 2019! 

We are delighted to announce the next three projects joining our portfolio of collaborative doctoral partnerships and funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Each of the following projects will be advertising studentships during the coming months. Please keep a look out on our website, newsletter and social media for more information, or contact the relevant lead supervisor outlined below.

Glasgow Caledonian University and The British Golf Museum are working together to explore an Oral History of Women’s Golf in Scotland, 1945-1995.  For more information contact Dr Fiona Skillen,

Glasgow University and the National Paralympic Heritage Trust will be examining the socio-political and technical history of the Sports Wheelchair.  For more information contact professor Nicholas Watson

Hertfordshire University and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club will be looking at bringing heritage assets to life: Tottenham Hotspur, community and memory, 1882 – 2018.  For more information contact Dr Jonathan Morris

Research which began in 2018: 

Future Proofing Commonwealth Games Heritage in Scotland 

The proposed Collaborative Doctoral Partnership will investigate the management and ‘future proofing’ of Commonwealth Games heritage in Scotland, including the material culture of the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive.
In addition, the research shall actively develop the intangible heritage of Team Scotland through an extensive cultural memory project with former athletes, coaches, administrators, and athlete family members. By investigating the choices made over the heritage value of the CGS Archive and through broadening its reach by capturing cultural memories from past Games, the research will provide valuable and critical knowledge about the purpose and relevance of sport heritage activities in Scotland.

An examination of Basketball’s cultural value and contribution to national sport heritage

Established in 2016, the National Basketball Heritage Archive and Study Centre (NBHASC) is a new contributor to the country’s sport heritage landscape. Reflecting the sport’s approximately 120-year history within the U.K. and its strong supporter base, the NBHASC serves as the key repository for a raft of social and cultural artefacts associated with the sport and its followers. The NBHASC also operates as a hub for a burgeoning number of scholars and community engagement and dissemination activities. Consequently, the project will examine the NBHASC collection in partnership with UCLAN and how the Centre might develop heritage processes to highlight the sport’s histories to its constituents.

Using Sports Heritage To Promote Diversity, Equality and Social Inclusion: A Case Study of Rugby League’s Heritage Programmes

Basing itself in the National Rugby League Museum project team (NRLM – due to open in Bradford in 2021), this project will examine how sports heritage can be used to engage with those sectors of society traditionally excluded or absent from heritage and related cultural programmes. It will use the living development of the NRLM as a lens to explore how decisions are made and what activities are undertaken to foster social inclusion. It will explore and evaluate other rugby league heritage programmes to assess their success in meeting this agenda and draw conclusions for the NRLM and other similar projects.

Research which began in 2017: 

The World Rugby Museum and DeMontfort University are working in partnership to explore Women in British Rugby Union: A Social and Cultural History, c. 1880-2016. Lead researcher Lydia Furse, will provide a unique insight into the role of women in rugby union through access to the RFL and wider collections.

The National Football Museum and the University of Central Lancashire are working in partnership to deliver a programme of research entitled The National Football Museum as a Cultural Institution. Led by researcher Amy Healey, this programme will provide unique insights into the position of a sporting heritage venue as part for the cultural landscape.

An Oral History of England and Team GB Women’s International Hockey Representatives, 1951 to the 2016 Olympics will provide unrivalled access to The Hockey Museum’s collections, and establish oral history legacy for the sport. Delivered in partnership between The Hockey Museum and the University of Wolverhampton, the lead researcher is yet to be appointed.

Investigating Women in a ‘Man’s World’: A Socio-Historical Study of Women Working in Leadership Positions in Men’s Professional Football in England, is being delivered by the National Football Museum and Durham University. Lead researcher Aimee Gill will explore for the first time how women have been positioned within this traditionally male dominated environment through access to the NFM’s collections.

Research which began in 2016:

A partnership between Manchester Metropolitan University and the River and Rowing Museum is exploring Women’s Role in British Competitive Rowing during the Second Half of the Twentieth Century. Led by researcher Lisa Taylor, this programme will provide new insights into women’s sport in general and deliver a unique contribution to sporting heritage knowledge in the UK.

Beyond the Boundary: Cricket and Community in England, 1945-2015 is delivered through a partnership between the MMC Museum at Lords at the University of Leicester. Aiming to establish the key contribution and connection between cricket and its community, lead researcher Armedeep Panesar will explore fundamental issues relating to place and sport.



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