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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Bidding farewell to Steven Pinch after a career in Geography

Published: 17 October 2013
Professor Steven Pinch

Steven Pinch, Professor of Geography, has retired after 37 years at the University of Southampton.

He was among the first in his subject to use geographical analysis to throw new perspectives on pressing social problems. This has involved work on geographical variations in the distribution of housing, child care, and social services, together with more recent work on the geography of social enterprises. Books such as Cities and Services and Worlds of Welfare reflect this research.

Steven has also been intrigued by what he calls ‘geographical detective work'. "In the 1990s no-one seemed to know why the UK - so inadequate at making many things - should totally dominate the world manufacture of racing cars. No less puzzling, why were all these highly competitive and secretive firms located so close to each other around Oxfordshire?" He says his research to solve the mystery of what has become known as the UK's ‘Motor Sport Valley' was great fun. He also discovered the proximity of the wind tunnels at the University of Southampton, where some F1 cars were originally tested, was a factor in the location of the industry.

Although he grew up in Cornwall, he moved to southern England to study at the University of Sussex and the London School of Economics; the region has provided the inspiration for his lifelong research into urban and welfare geography. "As a geographer, where you are is important," he explains. "I have been lucky to live and work in Southampton." During Steven's career at the University, Geography expanded from a department of 12 to a thriving academic division with 35 academic staff today. He also supported his wife Lyn Martin who was a pioneer of nurse education and established the first degree in that subject at Southampton in 1983. She died in 2001.

A fan of the University's distinctive modernist architecture, Steven has relished the academic life and valued the friendship and camaraderie of his fellow geographers. He has enjoyed combining research with teaching and is proud that many former students have gone on to successful careers "There are too many to list but I remember John Potter the Olympic hockey gold medallist, Richard McCarthy (until recently Director General for the Department for Communities and Local Government)  and the current TV weather presenter Ben Rich," he says.

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