Staff Profile: Dr Ian Mitchell

Name Dr Ian Mitchell
Title Honorary Research Fellow
Research Group Centre for Historical Research
Subject Area History
School School of Social, Historical and Political Studies


University of Wolverhampton
Faculty of Social Sciences
Mary Seacole Building
Camp Street

Areas of expertise

History of Retailing and Consumption in England from 17th century to early 20th


Ian Mitchell has been employed as an administrative Civil Servant in H.M. Customs and Excise, H.M. Treasury and Employment Department. He is an ordained minister in the Church of England having spent 16 years in full-time ministry prior to retirement in 2010. He has very long-standing interests in the history of retailing and consumption in England, has been associated with the University’s Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution since 2000 and has been an Honorary Research Fellow since 2009. His research during the last decade or so culminated in his 2014 book Tradition and Innovation in English Retailing, 1700 to 1850: Narratives of Consumption

Academic qualifications

  • University of London Diploma in Religious Studies (Distinction) 1984
  • Oxford University D.Phil. in Modern History 1975 - thesis title: "Urban Markets and Retail Distribution 1730-1815, with particular reference to Macclesfield, Stockport and Chester".
  • Oxford University B.A. (Hons) 1st class in Modern History 1971

Research interests

Having previously focused mainly on the 18th century and early 19th, Ian Mitchell is now looking at retailing after 1850. His current research is on shopping in provincial England in the period 1870 to 1914. He has a particular interest in the changing nature of shopping streets; the role of urban markets and market halls; the origins and early development of department stores; and the co-operative movement. His research focuses mainly on northern and midland England. He retains an interest in the book trade and in books as objects of consumption. He is also interested in ethical issues to do with retailing and shopping.

PhD supervision

Willing to be part of a supervisory team for a PhD on any aspect of retailing in the UK from the late 17th century to early 20th.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Economic History Society
  • Agricultural History Society    

Corporate and community engagement 

Some leadership roles in local church (Stonebroom, Derbyshire) including links with community and local school

External academic roles

Member of European Association for Urban History, Economic History Society and Agricultural History Society

Selected publications

  • The Victorian provincial department store: a category too many?’, History of Retailing and Consumption, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2015), pp. 149-63.
  • ‘Ethical shopping in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain’, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 7, No. 3 (2015), pp. 310-329.
  • Tradition and Innovation in English Retailing, 1700 to 1850: Narratives of Consumption (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014).
  • ‘Supplying the masses: retailing and town governance in Macclesfield, Stockport and Birkenhead, 1780-1860’, Urban History, Vol 38 Part 2 (August 2011), pp. 256-275.
  • ‘”Old books - new bound”? Selling second-hand books in England, c.1680-1850’ Chapter in Jon Stobart and Ilja van Damme (eds), Modernity and the Second-Hand Trade: European Consumption Cultures and Practices, 1700-1900 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp 139-157 ISBN 9780230229464.
  • ‘Innovation in non-food retailing in the early nineteenth century: the curious case of the bazaar’, Business History Vol. 52 No. 6, (2010), pp. 875-91. 
  • ‘The changing role of fairs in the long eighteenth century: evidence from the north midlands’, Economic History Review, vol. 60, No. 3, August 2007, pp.545-573.
  • ‘The development of urban retailing 1700-1815’ in P. Clark (ed), The Transformation of English Provincial Towns 1600-1800, (Hutchinson, 1984), pp. 259-283.
  • Food shortages and public order in Cheshire, 1757-1812’, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 81 (1982), pp. 42-66.