Dr David Vessey

University Tutor: Foundation Programme


I have worked at Sheffield since 2006, initially whilst studying for my Ph.D. after also completing my B.A. and M.A. at the university. I have previously taught at Leeds Metropolitan University, and additionally held Research Assistant posts working on projects investigating representations of entrepreneurship in British culture and the popular press. I combine my work in the Department for Lifelong Learning with the post of Teaching Associate in Modern History in the Department of History.

My Ph.D. titled ‘The Downfall of the Liberal Party and the Rise of Labour: Sheffield Politics, 1903-1924’ contributed to the wider historical debate on both parties by demonstrating that Sheffield’s experience validates interpretations of Liberal decline that pre-date the First World War.

I'm also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


ACE0346: Foundations of History
ACE0353 Foundations of Time and Humanity

Research interests

My research focuses on modern British political history, specifically the corresponding fortunes of the Labour and Liberal parties, and newspaper history in the twentieth century. I am currently researching British press narratives of the Soviet Union in the Stalinist era. The project will investigate shifts in popular reaction and newspaper opinion covering the Soviet Famine, purges and show trials, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Second World War (particularly the ‘Uncle Joe’ transformation), and the onset of the Cold War.


‘“People want newspapers far more than weekly collections of articles”: the Sheffield Guardian, the Labour Party and the left-wing press’, Labour History Review, 80.3 (2015)

This article uses the Sheffield Guardian to provide insight into the development of the Labour Party and the left-wing press in early twentieth-century Britain. The Guardian’s ten-year history between 1906 and 1916 reveals how Labour’s political identity evolved in Sheffield, overcoming struggles on the question of independence and co-operation with rival parties to more adequately recognise the everyday concerns of potential working-class supporters. Changes to the style, content and management of the Guardian were also indicative of the wider state of the left-wing press as Labour hesitated to ameliorate its focus on propaganda by acknowledging the continuing commercialisation of print media in Britain.

‘Attercliffe, Sheffield: The rise of Labour examined in two by-elections, 1894-1909’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 85 (2013)

This article evaluates the challenge of Labour to the Liberal Party’s traditional dominance over working-class political allegiance in Sheffield, covering by-elections in the Attercliffe constituency in 1894 and 1909. Labour was set on the path to political independence, distinguishing Sheffield from a pattern of Lib-Lab co-operation elsewhere in Britain, and culminating in Joseph Pointer’s victory as the city’s first Labour MP in 1909. The article is an adapted version of an essay which won second place in the Beresford Award of the 2012 Yorkshire Society History Prize.