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Faculty of Economics

Tuesday, 17 October, 2023

Reading Economics at the University of Cambridge as an undergraduate from 1967 to 1970, and a member of Trinity College, he graduated with a first class degree.

He had an encyclopedic knowledge of Britain’s economic history and was able to describe in easy to understand ways the narratives about the past and draw out lessons for policymakers. He is best known for writing the definitive account of Britain’s Industrial Revolution in an agenda-setting book published in 1985 that became the reference for generations of students.

His book, British Economic Growth During the Industrial Revolution, appeared to indicate that Britain’s transformation was a more gradual process than previously understood. The country was more developed at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and it was a considerable time before steam power began to boost growth and make the country richer.

Born in 1949 in Nottingham, he attended grammar school in Mansfield before reading economics and was always very confident in taking on senior academics he disagreed with.

He took an academic post at Berkeley University in the United States to study economic history, but returned to take up a fellowship at University College, Oxford, where he spent almost a decade. Later his academic career was split between Warwick university and LSE.

In 2022, he took the presidency of the UK’s Royal Economic Society, and also had a part-time post at Sussex university, where he was Professor of Economic History at the University of Sussex Business School until his death. Nicholas Crafts died last week aged 74.

Photo credit: MeJudice, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons