Personal profile


Tony comes from Wigan in the North West of England, and is Professor in History. He has taught in FE and four different universities. He was Head of History at Edge Hill and Liverpool John Moores Universities, and Head of Humanities at the University of Central Lancashire. He is also a qualified tax inspector.

Tony is a business historian of British empire and the Co-operative Movement. He is a former Governor of the Co-operative College in Manchester, and a Trustee of the Co-operative Heritage Trust, and a Governor of Runshaw FE College in Lancashire. Tony is also joint author of the approved AQA A level history text book, The British Empire 1857-1867 (Oxford University Press 2015). 

Tony is convenor of CoRNet, a developing network of researchers on co-operatives and social enterprises, which has run conferences and published several articles. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Common Purpose graduate.

Research interests

Tony's key publications include Gentlemen Capitalists: British Imperialism in Southeast Asia 1770-1890 (Tauris 1998); The Debate on the Rise of the British Empire (Manchester University Press 2006); The Richest East India Merchant: The Life and Business of John Palmer of Calcutta (Boydell 2007), The Empire in One City: Liverpool’s Inconvenient Past (Manchester University Press 2008 – edited with Nick White and Sheryllynne Haggerty), The Twilight of the East India Company: The Evolution of Anglo-Asian Commerce and Politics 1790-1860 (Boydell 2009), Commodities, Ports and Asian Maritime Trade since 1770 (Palgrave 2015 – edited with Ulbe Bosma), Mainstreaming Co-operation: An Alternative for the 21st Century (Manchester University Press 2016 – edited with Linda Shaw and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh). In 2005 he was awarded the Newcomen Prize for best article for that year in Enterprise & Society, for his article on John Palmer. With Professor John Wilson (Director of the Newcastle University Business School) and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh (the Co-operative College) he wrote Building Co-operation: A Business History of the Co-operative Group 1863-2013 (Oxford University Press 2013). The book formed the principal historical source used for the Kelly Report into the problems of the Co-operative Bank (2014), and Tony has presented his research at a Bank of England Seminar (2015). The project was supported by the British co-operative movement, with which Tony retains close links. Tony's principal latest publications are Co-operation and Globalisation (Routledge 2019) and (with Nick White) Singapore - Two Hundred Years of the Lion City (Routledge 2020). Tony's latest articles are “Commerce with a bit of ethics or ethics with a bit of commerce? The conundrum of British consumer co-operation 1863-1990" with J. Wilson & N. Wong. Journal of Management History (June 2020), at and  “Local regeneration and community wealth building–place making: co-operatives as agents of change” with Olga Kuznetsova, Cilla Ross, Cécile Berranger, Michelle Booth, Temidayo Eseonu, Yaron Golan, Journal of Place Management and Development (December 2020) at


Education/Academic qualification

History, DPhil, University of Birmingham

1 Sept 197731 Dec 1984

Award Date: 6 Dec 1984


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