Witness Seminars

Since 2004 the Churchill Archives Centre has helped organise a number of 'witness seminars' on the history of events or developments which have taken place in what might be styled "The Thatcher era".

These exercises in oral history involved asking key participants to meet around a seminar table to discuss and debate the issues surrounding the chosen topic as they remember them. Witness seminars thus operate as group interviews, usually chaired by a senior academic or public figure, which are taped and transcribed primarily for the use of researchers.

Participants have included former international leaders and politicians, British Chancellors of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretaries and Cabinet Secretaries and their "back room" aides and advisers.


"The 1981 Budget: facts and fallacies", held in association with Lombard Street Research, 27 September 2011, Grocers' Hall, London

For background papers, see Lombard Street Research. Read the draft transcript.


"Berlin in the Cold War, 1948-1990 and German Unification, 1989-1990", held in association with the FCO Historians and the German Embassy in London, 16 October 2009, Lancaster House, London

Download background papers and transcripts


"The monetary merry-go-round", held in association with Lombard Street Research, 17 November 2008, Grocers' Hall, London

An investigation of three periods of monetary instability - the end of Bretton Woods in 1968, attempts at stabilistation between 1985 - 1987 via the Plaza Accord and Louvre and the 1976 Sterling Crisis. Included a key discussion with Paul Volcker, chairman of the Federal Reserve, 1979-87.

Paul Volcker in discussion with Hon. Peter Jay. Copyright, Lombard Street Research.

Paul Volcker in discussion with Hon. Peter Jay. Copyright, Lombard Street Research.


"The Other Special Relationship: Anglo-Canadian Relations from the Churchill Era to the Present Day", 21 October 2008, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Read a summary.


"The turning point", held in association with Lombard Street Research, 14 November 2007, Grocers' Hall, London

A seminar to mark the 15th anniversary of the UK's withdrawal from the Exchange Rate Mechanism and the 10th anniversary of the Bank of England's independence in setting monetary policy.

Two former chancellors, Kenneth Clarke and Lord Lamont. Copyright, Lombard Street Research.

Two former chancellors, Kenneth Clarke and Lord Lamont. Copyright, Lombard Street Research.


"Overstretched? The making and impact of the UK's defence reviews since 1957", 25 October 2007, Churchill College, Cambridge (An event to mark the 80th birthday of Correlli Barnett, CBE).

For a draft transcript, contact Thatcher.Archives@chu.cam.ac.uk.


"The privatisation of British Telecom, 1984", held in association with the BT Archives and the Cabinet Office's Official Histories programme, 5 December 2006, Telecom Tower, London

For a draft transcript, contact Thatcher.Archives@chu.cam.ac.uk


"Revitalization or Vandalism? The Reform of the Civil Service under Mrs Thatcher", held in association with the Cabinet Office's Official Histories programme, 17 November 2006, Churchill College, Cambridge.


"Foreign policy in the 1980s: an event in honour of Sir John Boyd KCMG (out-going Master of Churchill College)", held in association with the Centre for Contemporary British History, 6 February 2006, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Sir John Boyd with three former Foreign Secretaries: (from left to right), Lord Howe of Aberavon, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Sir John Boyd and Lord Hurd of Westwell. Copyright, Churchill College. Image taken by Robert Massam.

Sir John Boyd with three former Foreign Secretaries: (from left to right), Lord Howe of Aberavon, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Sir John Boyd and Lord Hurd of Westwell. Copyright, Churchill College. Image taken by Robert Massam.

For a draft transcript, contact Thatcher.Archives@chu.cam.ac.uk.


"The Changing Climate of Opinion: Economic Policymaking, 1975-9", held in association with the Centre for Contemporary British History, 22nd October 2005, Churchill College, Cambridge

For a draft transcript, contact Thatcher.Archives@chu.cam.ac.uk.


"The 1979 General Election", held in association with the Centre for Contemporary British History, Friday 22 October 2004, Churchill College, Cambridge

For a draft transcript, contact Thatcher.Archives@chu.cam.ac.uk.