Engineering history: the Motorway Archive Trust and the construction of institutional perspectives on UK transport’s past, present and future

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In recent years there have been a number of examples of transport and transport-related bodies which have sought to construct and represent a particular institutional perspective on transport’s past, present and future. In this context, this paper examines the activities of the Motorway Archive Trust in seeking to represent and promote road transport history. The paper explores the motivations which lie behind this initiative, paying particular attention to both historiographical issues and the policy agenda. In relation to historiography, attention will be paid to the relative positioning of road and rail transport history in the UK, with comparison drawn with the United States and on issues surrounding the disciplines of institutional and contemporary history. In terms of the policy agenda, the paper examines the uses and role of historical enquiry in the shaping and representation of the Motorway Archive Trust’s institutional perspective on road transport. The analysis will draw upon techniques in prosopography to examine the influence of social and professional networks in constructing institutional and cross-institutional perspectives on transport history and policy and in influencing the wider transport debate. The paper concludes by considering the broader relationship between transport history and policy and asks if there is a role for academic historians in the field of transport studies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventUTSG 44th Annual Conference - Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jan 20126 Jan 2012


ConferenceUTSG 44th Annual Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom


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