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The Papers of Peter and Phyllis Willmott

Reference Code: GBR/0014/WLMT

Scope and Contents

Comprising Phyllis Willmott's diaries, correspondence, books and articles; and Peter Willmott's correspondence and papers.


  • Creation: 1933 - 2006

Biographical / Historical

Peter Willmott was born in Oxford, 18 September 1923, the son of Benjamin Merriman Willmott and Dorothy Nellie Willmott [née Waymouth]. He was educated at Tollington School, London; Ruskin College, Oxford; and London University. He married Phyllis Noble, 31 July 1948, with whom he had two sons.

He was an apprentice at Rootes car factory in Luton, until 1944, and was then conscripted to work in the South Wales coal mines. On leaving Ruskin College, Oxford, he became the warden of a Lambeth hostel for the homeless (founded by Donald Soper). At this time, he made contact with Michael Young and joined him in the Labour Party's Research Department, 1948-54, whilst also studying for an external degree in sociology at London University. In 1954, he and Michael Young founded the Institute of Community Studies, in Bethnal Green. He was a researcher there, 1954-60, later becoming Deputy Director, 1960-4; Co-Director, 1964-78, and President, from 1978. He was Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies, 1978-80; Head of the Central Policy Unit of the Greater London Council, 1981-3; and Senior Fellow of the Policy Studies Institute, from 1983. He was also a Visiting Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning at University College, London, from 1972.

He died in London on 8 April 2000.

His publications include: (with Michael Young) "Family and Kinship in East London" (1957); (with Michael Young) "Family and Class in a London Suburb" (1960); "The Evolution of a Community" (1963); "Adolescent Boys of East London" (1966); (with Michael Young) "The Symmetrical Family" (1973); (with Graeme Shankland and David Jordan) "Inner London: Policies for Dispersal and Balance" (1977); (with Charles Madge) "Inner City Poverty in Paris and London" (1981); (with Roger Mitton and Phyllis Willmott) "Unemployment, Poverty and Social Policy: a Comparative Study in Britain, France and Germany" (1983); (with David Thomas) "Community in Social Policy" (1984); "Social Networks, Informal Care and Public Policy" (1986); "Friendship Networks and Social Support" (1987); (with Alan Murie) "Social Polarisation and Social Housing: the British and French Experience" (1988); and "Community Initiatives: Patterns and Prospects" (1989).

Phyllis Mary Noble was born in Lee, 1 June 1922, the daughter of Alec Noble and Harriet Jane Noble (née Mann), and grew up in an extended family group in her grandparents' house at 49 Lampmead Road. She was educated at Roan School, Greenwich,1933-8. She married Peter Willmott, 31 July 1948, with whom she had two sons.

On leaving school, she worked at the Times Book Club, 1938-9, and then at the headquarters of the National Provincial Bank in Bishopsgate, in the City of London, 1939-43. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and served as a meteorolgical officer based mainly at North Creake airfield, in Norfolk, 1943-6. After the war, she trained as a lady almoner [medical social worker], working during her training at the Deptford Office of the Family Welfare Association, St Thomas's Hospital and the Hammersmith Hospital, 1947-8. After qualification, she worked briefly at Hackney Hospital, 1948-9. She went on to work as a researcher at the Institute of Community Studies, a lecturer on social work and social policy, and a writer.

She died in London on 6 November 2013.

Her publications include: "The Consumer's Guide to the British Social Services" (1967); four volumes of memoirs comprising "Growing Up in a London Village" (1979), "A Green Girl" (1983), "Coming of Age in Wartime" (1988), and "Joys and Sorrows" (1995); a biography "A Singular Woman: The Life of Geraldine Aves" (1992); and a family history, "From Rural East Anglia to Suburban London" (1998).


45 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Phyllis Willmott, 2010.


This collection level description was prepared by Sophie Bridges, April 2010, and the collection was catalogued, May 2016. Biographical information was obtained from the website of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

2009-05-28 11:32:28+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087