Stevedores loading cargo in the 1950s 

Stevedores loading cargo in the 1950s

The Living History of a Transport Revolution >

Research Themes
Material Culture

Research Staff
Bruce Peter

Affiliated Department
Forum for Critical Inquiry (FoCI)

Behind the façade of contemporary consumer culture there exists the complex but ingenious hidden infrastructures of transport logistics. Usually invisible to the general public and considered unglamorous, modern shipping techniques and the development of the shipping container in particular have had a profound effect on our way of life.

Today, we live in a world often characterised by forces of mass production, distribution and leisure. Concealed behind security fences and often in remote locations, a sophisticated and highly designed hidden infrastructure makes possible our ability to purchase seemingly everything relatively cheaply and at any time of year. This was made possible by a shipping revolution during the 1960s, a rapid shift in transportation methods which happened concurrently with social revolutions ashore. Slow and un-secure transportation methods, whereby stevedores manhandled mixed cargo, made way for new techniques of roll-on, roll-off and containerised shipping.

Although the story of the development of these techniques remains just within living memory, it has to date been regarded purely as part of engineering or economic history. Thus, there is considerable potential for more multi-disciplinary approaches to examine the design history and material culture of modern merchant ships and shipping. The aim of this project is to show how such design developments impacted on culture and society. The research draws on interviews with retired shipping company managers, naval architects, engineers and others to record the living history of integrated transport logistics. It also involves archival research, collecting vintage promotional material and visits to ships, ports and other facilities to examine and document these objects and environments at first hand. 

Project papers on RADAR:

Dansk Linjefart: Fra Selandia til Emma Maersk by Bruce Peter

Knud E. Hansen: Ship Design Through Seven Decades - second edition by Bruce Peter

In the Wake of Selandia: Danish Liner Shipping 1912-2012 by Bruce Peter

Danish Ship Design: The work of Kay Fisker and Kay Kørbing 1936-1991 by Bruce Peter

Bruce Peter on RADAR

The changing face of the British railways

The changing face of the British railways Peter, Bruce ...

18/09/18 11:04

Innovation and Specialisation: The Story of Shipbuilding in Finland

Innovation and Specialisation: The Story of Shipbuilding ...

15/11/17 9:13

Ocean liners: Glamour, Speed and Style

Ocean liners: Glamour, Speed and Style Peter, Bruce (2...

27/06/17 12:25