Dr Susan Barton

Job: Honorary Visiting Research Fellow

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities

Research group(s): International Centre for Sports History and Culture

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: n/a

E: ICSHC@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/sportshistory

Social Media: twitter.com/ICSHC


Personal profile

Dr Susan Barton is an honorary research fellow in the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University in Leicester. She has a wide range of interests in social history and her publications include work on the knitted textile industry, working-class tourism, the British seaside, package holidays in Spain, sport and learning disability, tourism development in Switzerland and winter sports. Susan has been involved in various broadcast media productions including television appearances in BBC4’s British Passions on Film: getting away from it all in 2012, BBC 1’s Coast in 2011 and The One Show in 2010. She has also taken part in many radio programmes including Making History for BBC Radio 4. Her current projects include investigating the Winter Olympics up to 1948 and their sporting and touristic legacies, co-authoring and editing a four volume set of source texts on the history of tourism in Britain to be completed early in 2014 and events commemorating the 150th anniversary of Thomas Cook’s first Swiss tour with Switzerland Tourism.  

Key research outputs

Lawrence Linnell (1870-1957): Leicester’s Winter Sport ChampionLeicestershire Historian, No. 48, 2012

Bobsleighing, Skeleton, Luge,in Sports around the World -History, Culture, and Practice edited by John Nauright and Charles Parrish, ABC-CLIO, 2012

Vernacular Erections:Lincolnshire coastal development and conservation before 1940Recording Leisure Lives: Holidays and Tourism in 20th Century Britain, edited by Robert Snape and Helen Pussard, Leisure Studies Association, 2011

Learning Disability, Sport and Legacy: A Report by the Legacy Research Group on the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games, Leicester 2009, (with Neil Carter, Richard Holt and John Williams), 2011

The Role of Sledging in the Development of Winter Sports in SwizerlandWinter Sport and Outdoor Life, Morgedal, Norway, 2011

Creating resort identities and loyalties among British communities in Switzerland, 1870-1914Recording Leisure Lives: Sports, Games and Pastimes in 20th Century Britain, ed Robert Snape and Helen Pussard, Leisure Studies Association, 2010.

A Sporting Chance: the history of Special Olympics GB, Special Olympics Leicester, June 2009

Healthy Living in the Alps: sanatoria and the origins of winter sports tourism in Switzerland, 1860-1914, Manchester University Press, November 2008

Why Should Working Men Visit the Exhibition? - Workers and the Great Exhibition and the Ethos of Industrialisation, in The Golden Age, edited by Jeffrey Hill, Ian Inkster et al, Ashgate, 2000

Holidays before 1950, New Perspective, Sempringham Press, 2007

The working class and the development of popular tourism, Manchester University Press, February 2005 (reissued in paperback, March 2011)

Package holidays to Spain in the 1950s and 1960sThe Hospitality Review, 2004

The place of the Poor Law in the creation of the framework knitting community of Hinckley, 1760s to 1860sIII Jornadas de Arquelogia Industrial, Universidade da Beira Interior, 2002.

Jours heureux, maisons de vacances et patrimoine - la côte du Lincolnshire de l’est de l’Angleterre avant 1940Touriste, autochtone: qui est l’étranger? Ethnologie Française, 2002

Twisted Yarns - History of the Hinckley Hosiery Industry, Arqueotex Textile Heritage Project, European Regional Development Fund, 1999

The Mechanics’ Institutes - Pioneers of Leisure and Excursion TravelTransactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume LXVII

Research interests/expertise

Susan’s major research topic is the social and economic history of the leisure and tourism industry, particularly popular culture and tourism in Switzerland, Spain and England. She has also worked on a wide range of themes in English social, industrial and cultural history between the late 18th and late 20th centuries. A current project is a study of the Winter Olympic Games and winter sports tourism up to and including the 1948 event in St Moritz. She is also compiling and commenting on in a series of essays, a set of four volumes of source texts on the history of tourism in Britain. This is a joint effort with Allan Brodie of English Heritage and it should be completed early in 2014.


  • PhD from De Montfort University
  • MSc Computing
  • BA(Hons) Combined Arts
  • Cert Ed

Forthcoming events

As it’s the 150th anniversary of Thomas Cook’s first tour to Switzerland in 1863, Susan is working with Switzerland Tourism on events to commemorate and celebrate 150 years of popular Swiss tourism.  On this theme, she is organising a panel of speakers on Swiss outdoor sports and tourism for the European Rural History Organisation’s conference in Bern in August 2013.

Conference attendance

Making Space for Athletes with Learning Disabilities: the case of the Special Olympics, Health in History, Anglo-American Conference, London, June 2011

The Role of Sledging in the Development of Winter Sports in Swizerland, Winter Sport and Outdoor Life Conference, Bo in Telemark, Norway, February 2011

Vernacular Erections: Holiday homes and beach huts on the Lincolnshire coast and the Lindsey County Council Sandhills Act, Recording Leisure Lives, Bolton 2010, Keynote Speaker

Technology transfer in Swiss Tourism, Transfer of Technology Forum, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, November 2009

Happy Days, Holiday Homes, Health Hazards and Heritage: the impact of visitors on the Lincolnshire Coast of Eastern England before 1940, Resorting to the Coast, Blackpool, June 2009

Package Holidays in Spain for British Tourists: The Beginnings of European Popular Tourism, Euro Pop: The Production and Consumption of a European Popular Culture in the 20th Century, Villa Vigoni, Italy, June 2009

Creating resort identities and loyalties among British communities in Switzerland, 1870-1914, Recording Leisure Lives, Bolton, March 2009

Alpine milk in Swiss alpine cures:  Food and Tourism Conference, University of Central Lancashire, June 2006

The role of sanatoria in the development of Alpine sports tourism: Davos 1865-1914: T2M, International Conference on Mobility and Transport History, York Railway Museum, October, 2005

Package holidays to Spain by chartered flights:T2M, International Conference on Mobility and Transport History, University of Eindhoven, November 2003

Representations of package holidays in popular culture in the 1960s and 1970s, Representations of tourism, University of Central Lancashire, June 2003

Playing on the Playa: It Didn’t Costa Packet! The impact of British tourists on the Spanish coast in the 1960s, Play - Social History Society Conference, University of Leicester, 2003

The Management of Space in Nineteenth Century Trains, Off the Rails! Behaving Badly on the Railways, SOLON (interdisciplinary studies in bad behaviour and socially visible crime) Conference, National Railway Museum, York, 2002

Workers and the Great Exhibition of 1851 - Locating the Victorians, the Science Museum, London, July 2001

The Trade Union Congress and campaigns for paid holidays and the Holidays with Pay Select Committee 1938, Tourisms: Identities, Environments, Conflicts and Histories, University of Central Lancashire, June 2001

Planning for Post-war Holidays - Labour Party Policy 1938-1950, Envisioning Futures - Social History Society Conference, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 2000

The Place of the Poor Law in the Transition from Agricultural Labourer to Working-class Framework Knitter in Hinckley 1760s to 1840s - Forging Identities - Social History Society Conference, York, January 1999

The Poor Law and the Creation of the Hinckley Hosiery Industry - International Conference on the European Textile Industry, University of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal, November 1998

Kinship and Careers in the Hosiery Industry - eighteenth century to the present, The Family Revisited - Social History Society Conference,  Nottingham Trent University, January 1998

The Struggle for Time - Campaigns for Holidays with Pay - Time - Social History Society Conference, Lancaster, January 1997

The Great Exhibition and Travel for the Masses - International Symposium on the Crowd, de Montfort University, Leicester, June 1996

Dr Susan Barton