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Iain Black

College positions:
Emeritus Fellow
Geography, Historical Geography
Department of Geography
Contact details:

Dr Iain S. Black

Dr Iain Black is an Historical Geographer with research interests in money, banking and the architecture of finance. He began his career as a Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, before moving to King’s College London and later the University of Cambridge.

Before coming to Clare Hall as Senior Tutor in 2012, Dr Black was a Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies in Geography at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. His work has two principal foci. The first concerns reconstructing the circulation of money and short-term paper credit in early industrial England, with particular reference to the integration of banking and capital markets across space in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He has also written nine biographies of provincial and metropolitan bankers for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The second involves a critical (re)interpretation of the landscape and architecture of cities of finance in Britain and the British Empire between c.1750 and c.1950. Together with a major body of work on the City of London, more recent research has examined the diffusion of British banking culture in the built environments of a variety of colonial and semi-colonial spaces in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Dr Black has also recently published a jointly-authored history of the sub-discipline of Historical Geography at Cambridge from the later-nineteenth century to the present. Beyond academic writing he has acted as a consultant to the London Development Agency, the Greater London Authority, English Heritage and the Museum of London. An experienced mountaineer with over forty ascents in the Alps, North America and Asia, he has held the post of Honorary Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society. He is currently a member of the Cambridge University Expeditions Committee.

Select publications

• Iain S. Black, ‘Rebuilding The Heart of the Empire: bank headquarters in the City of London, 1919-1939’, Art History (1999) 22 593-618
• Iain S. Black, ‘Spaces of capital: bank office building in the City of London, 1830-1870’, Journal of Historical Geography (2000) 26 351-375
• Iain S. Black, ‘The London agency system in English banking, 1780-1825’ in Ranald Michie, ed., London as a Financial Centre. Volume 1: 1700-1850 (London: I. B. Tauris, 2000) 73-94
• Iain S. Black, ‘Private banking in London’s West End, 1750-1830’, London Journal (2003) 28 29-59
• Iain S. Black, ‘Africa awakening: Gilbert Ledward, Barclays Bank DCO and the end of empire’, Sculpture Journal (2007) 16 34-46
• Iain S. Black, ‘Analysing historical and archival sources’ in Nicholas Clifford and Gill Valentine, eds., Key Methods in Geography (London: Sage, 2010) 466-484
• Alan R.H. Baker, Iain S. Black and Robin A. Butlin, 130 Years of Historical Geography at Cambridge 1888-2018 (London: HGRG Research Series No. 46, 2019)
• Iain S. Black (2020) ‘Martins Bank Head Office, Liverpool 1927-32’, in Hofmann, C. and Massaglia, G. (eds.) Architecture and Finance (Frankfurt: European Association for Banking History) 92-101