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Joan Heggie

Joan Heggie

About Joan Heggie

Joan Heggie is the Research Funding Manager in the Research & Innovation Services Department. Joan’s role is to lead the team working with academics and researchers across the university in seeking research funding.

Joan has a BA (Hons) in History, Gender & Politics and a Masters and PhD in Women’s Studies. Joan’s PhD (University of York, 2005) explored the experiences of lesbian soldiers within the British Army to more fully understand how institutional structures and policies regulate both gender and sexuality by controlling the female body. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, this research revealed how lesbians managed and negotiated their different identities as women, as soldiers and as lesbians.

Since coming to Teesside in 2002, Joan has worked as a researcher on several projects regarding women’s employability, gender and skills.  From 2008-2011, she was Project Manager of the British Steel Archive Project, which generated new avenues of research in Teesside’s industrial history and women’s social history. Research exploring women's involvement with property using the North Riding Register of Deeds during the 18th & 19th centuries is ongoing.

As well as being a member of the Social Futures Institute, Joan is also a member of the Centre for Regional and Local Historical Research, the Cleveland and Teesside History Society and the Friends of Teesside Archives.  She has strong links to community groups and regularly gives public talks across the region about her research.

Within the University, Joan takes a lead in supporting the wider Equality and Diversity strategy by challenging stereotypes, raising awareness and helping to break down the barriers that prevent staff and students achieving their potential. She was recently elected Chair of the LGBT Staff Focus Group and is also a member of the Equal Opportnities Committee. Joan acts as a Mentor for students through the Diversitees Programme.

Research interests and activities

Joan’s current research focuses on three main areas of interest:

Exploring women’s involvement with land and property is an important area of research which helps to enhance understanding about the complexity of women's relationships to property since the late 18th century. This pilot project has been funded by a small research grant from the Economic History Society and uses the North Riding Register of Deeds, held at the North Yorkshire County Record Office, as its primary resource. These documents are a hugely under-utilised resource for women's property history in general but also help to address the gap in knowledge about women's involvement with property during their lifetimes, as opposed to that held at death. The North Riding Register of Deeds contains handwritten ledgers in which property transactions for the North Riding of Yorkshire are recorded, covering the period from 1736 to 1971. Two Index Ledgers were transcribed into a database for periods 1784-90 and 1885-1889 and have been made available via an online search facility to increase public access. An extensive gender-based analysis of the database has been carried out and all women's wills and transactions containing only women have been transcribed. Further work is ongoing regarding the size and value of the property, as well as analysis by type of transaction. Archival research will be carried out to create biographical reconstructions of selected women’s lives. These combined methods will help to establish how women were involved in property transactions over time and contribute to the wider debates on women as social and economic actors.

The history of the growth of Teesside and the global impact of its iron & steel industry is another area of interest. Using the British Steel Collection as the primary resource, Joan is exploring the companies which came to Teesside in the 19th century and the influential individuals who contributed so much to the industry. Joan published a book in 2013 on Middlesbrough’s Iron & Steel Industry which contains approximately 180 images from the Collection.

After discovering an album of prints about steel making by Viva Talbot in Teesside Archives, Joan has carried out extensive historical and biographical research into Talbot’s life. This has included developing exhibitions of her original artwork. Several venues in the north east have hosted these exhibitions, including Middlesbrough's Institute of Modern Art (mima). Joan is currently researching the Talbot family home, Solberge Hall (near Northallerton), as well as compiling a catalogue raisonné of Viva Talbot’s work.  

Joan's interest in local & regional history focuses on the ways in which the industrial narrative of Teesside and the wider Tees Valley can be more fully understood by exploring the biographies of individuals who were, in some way, involved in its growth. These include (in addition to those already mentioned above): Benjamin Talbot (industrialist); John Ross (architect) and Margaret Wright (photographer).

Research supervision
Joan welcomes enquiries from potential PhD students interested in women’s history and regional history, especially related to the industrial heritage of Teesside and women and property.

Enterprise interest and activities

Currently involved as an Historical Consultant during the restoration of the Central Lodge buildings in Stewart Park, Middlesbrough, part of Askham Bryan College. See


Selected publications

Heggie, J. K. F. (2013) Middlesbrough’s Iron & Steel Industry. Stroud: Amberley Publishing.

Heggie, J. K. F. (2012) ‘Viva Frances Talbot, Lady Nussey (1900-1983)’ in Durham Biographies, Volume Seven. Edited by G. R. Batho and Alisoun Roberts. Durham: The History of Education Project.

Heggie, J. (2010) “Viva Talbot”. Multiples: The Journal of the Society of Wood Engravers No. 8 (November), p. 15-18.

Heggie, J. K. F. (2009) “The British Steel Archive Project: Forging new kinds of partnerships to preserve significant business archives”. Business Archives Principles and Practice, Number 98 (May), p. 16-32.

View Joan Heggie's Publications on TeesRep

In the news

  • Clubs and Societies reports
    Darlington & Stockton Times, 09/06/2017
    Upper Dales Family History Group's May speaker was Dr Joan Heggie of Teesside University on a project using the register of deeds at the County Records Office.

  • Talk focusing on women and property
    Darlington & Stockton Times, 12/05/2017
    Dr Joan Heggie of Teesside University will talk to the Upper Dales Family History Group about women and property in the North Riding

  • Dales History
    Northern Echo, 09/05/2017
    Teesside University professor Dr Joan Heggie will deliver a talk on 'Women and property in the North Riding' at Fremington Sunday School near Reeth on May 24

  • Teams join Rainbow Rounders
    Hartlepool Mail, 29/04/2017; Hartlepool Mail we, 29/04/2017
    The Rainbow Rounders event hosted by Teesside University as part of its pledge to embrace diversity and actively oppose prejudice.

  • BBC Radio Tees, 24/03/2017
    BBC Radio Tees, John Foster, 24/03/2017; BBC Radio Tees, Bob Fisscher, 24/03/2017
    Dr Joan Heggie is featured in a radio discussion on the possible developments of a purpose-built archive at Middleham, and History Centre

  • Britain to celebrate pioneering women with three new statues
    The Guardian, online, 09/01/2017
    Research by Dr Joan Heggie is cited in a feature about prominent women and public monuments.

  • Heritage partnership to document Tees Valley's industrial history
    North East Connected, 25/11/2016
    The changing nature of the Tees Valley's industrial heritage is to be documented and promoted thanks to a new partnership between Teesside University and local museum.

  • Heritage partnership to document Tees Valley's industrial history
    Love Middlesbrough, 18/11/2016
    Teesside University is working with Kirkleatham Museum on the partnership entitled 'Landscape of Rapid Change'.

  • Teesside ranked England's top university for LGBT employment
    Attitude web, 11/07/2016
    Teesside University is ranked as England's top university, and third of all educational organisations in the UK, in the Stonewall Top 100 employers' index

  • Women Soliders
    BBC Radio Tees, 06/04/2016
    Joan Heggie talks about women soldiers on the front line.

  • Inside OUt North East and Cumbria
    BBC 1 North East, 18/01/2016
    Dr Joan Heggie and Teesside Archives are featured in the BBC 1 North East's "Inside Out" programme.

  • Inside Out North East and Cumbria
    BBC North East, 18/01/16
    Dr Joan Heggie talks about the history of the steel industry on Teesside.

  • Life after steel: can Redcar rise from the ashes?
    The Guardian, 27/10/15
    Dr Joan Heggie discusses the impact of the closure of the SSI plant at Redcar.

  • Scunthorpe lives off steel - but for how long?
    NRC (The Netherlands), 23/10/15
    Dr Joan Heggie talks about the demise of the British steel industry.

  • Crisis at SSI - BBC Breakfast
    BBC1 - 16/10/15
    Dr Joan Heggie discusses the latest situation at SSI Redcar.

  • SSI crisis
    BBC Tees, 13/10/15; TFM 13/10/15
    Dr Joan Heggie discusses the ongoing crisis at SSI Redcar.

  • Radio 4 Women's Hour
    BBC Radio 4, 12/10/2015
    Dr Joan Heggie comments on the demise of SSI Redcar

  • Teesside steel 'transformed the global landscape'
    Durham Times online, 02/10/2015; Berwick Today, 02/10/2015
    Dr Joan Heggie, research fellow at the Social Futures Institute at Teesside University, said without Teesside steel the world would be totally different.

  • Teesside steel 'transformed the global landscape'
    Belfast Telegraph, 01/10/15
    Dr Joan Heggie, research fellow at the Social Futures Institute at Teesside University, said without Teesside steel the world would be totally different.

  • SSI Closure at Redcar
    BBC Tees, 29.09.2015; BBC Breakfast, 29.09.2015; BBC Radio 5 Live, 29.09.2015; BBC Radio Ulster, 29.09.2015; BBC Radio Foyle, 29.09.2015; BBC Radio Newcastle, 29.09.2015; BBC Cambridge, 29.09.2015
    Research fellow, Joan Heggie discusses the discussion to mothball the SSI plant at Redcar.

  • Steel war against China
    Sky News 28/09/15
    Dr Joan Heggie talks about the impact of the SSI closure at Redcar.

  • Research Fellow discusses SSI crisis
    BBC Tees, 28.09.2015; BBC Radio 5 Live, 28.09.2015
    Research Fellow Joan Heggie discuss the SSI crisis.

  • SSI Crisis at Redcar
    BBC Breakfast, 24.09.2015; BBC News Online, 24.09.2015; BBC Sussex, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Merseyside, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Oxford, 24.09.2015; BBC Jersey, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Foyle, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio 5 Live, 24.09.2015
    Academic Joan Heggie discusses crisis at SSI plant, Redcar.

  • SSI Crisis at Redcar
    BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Lancashire, 24.09.2015; BBC Guernsey, 24.09.2015; BBC Lincolnshire, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Newcastle, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Humberside, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Ulster, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Kent, 24.09.2015
    Academic Joan Heggie discusses crisis at SSI plant, Redcar.

  • SSI Crisis at Redcar
    BBC Radio Scotland (Glasgow), 24.09.2015; BBC Surrey, 24.09.2015; BBC Radio Shropshire, 24.09.2015; BBC Tees, 24.09.2015
    Academic Joan Heggie discusses crisis at SSI plant, Redcar.

  • Heir Hunters
    BBC1, 12/03/14
    Interview with Dr Joan Heggie about Middlesbrough's steel-making heritage.

  • Teesside's proud iron and steel past in photographs
    Evening Gazette, 24/10/2013, p.36
    A collection of photographs looking at the region's rich industrial heritage is contained in a book by Teesside University academic Joan Heggie.

  • Middlesbrough's Iron & Steel Industry
    Steel Times International (Web), 13/10/2013
    A pictorial account of the history of steel production in UK’s town of Middlesbrough on the banks of the river Tees has been published. The collection and descriptions have been compiled by Dr Joan He

  • A lasting legacy for Middlesbroughs iconic era
    Love Middlesbrough (Web), 25/07/2013
    Dr Joan Heggie, a Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences & Law, has created a fascinating image-based book detailing the history of Middlesbrough’s iconic iron and steel industry.

  • Lasting legacy for town's historic era
    ITV Tyne Tees News, 18/07/2013
    Dr Joan Heggie, a Research Fellow at Teesside University, has spent years carefully analysing and researching thousands of images from the British Steel Collection. And now those photographs have been

  • HISTORY TALK: Dr Joan Heggie
    Northern Echo (North Edition), 07/02/2012, p.41
    Dr Joan Heggie of Teesside University is to give a talk on 20th century printmaker Viva Talbot at a meeting of Durham County Local History Society at St Giles' parish centre on Saturday, February 18.

  • Stepping back into history
    The Durham Times, 17/02/2012, p.6,
    A talk on Viva Talbot, a 20th century printmaker will be given at Durham County Local History Society in St Giles parish centre by Dr Joan Heggie from Teesside University.