Willmott, Peter

First name/s: Peter
Last name: Willmott
Known names / nicknames:
Date of birth: 18/11/1923
Year of birth: 1923

Life before Ruskin

Date and place of birth: Oxford

Family: Married Phyllis Noble July 1948

Work: When he left school Willmott worked as an apprentice in Rootes car factory in Luton.  After completing his apprenticeship in 1944 he was conscripted into the coal mines in south Wales as a ‘Bevin boy’.  Due to ill health he was declared unfit for further work in the mines but considered fit for military service.  Willmott was a pacifist and was able to serve in the Friends Relief Service. In 1947 Willmott was a warden in a homeless hostel for the homeless in Lambeth.

Politics/Trade union activity:

Trade Union membership (at time of entry to Ruskin)

Life at Ruskin

Dates at Ruskin: c1948

Source of funding:

Campaigns/political activity:

Subjects studied at Ruskin:



Life after Ruskin



Sociologist, researcher for Labour Party, writer.

Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies (1978).

Policy Studies Institute (1983)

Professor at the University of Paris, the University of London or the University of California

Politics/trade union activity:

Family: Two sons, Lewis, b 1949 and Michael, b 1952

Place & date of death: London, 8 April 2000

Date of death: 08/04/2000
Year of death: 2000

Achievements / Publications

In 1954 Willmott and Michael Young established the Institute of Community Studies at Bethnal Green in east London where they introduced a new style of sociological research. The results of their work were published such as Family and Kinship in East London (1957) Family and Class in a London Suburb (1960)

Willmott was subsequently published widely.  He also compiled and edited two volumes of Urban Trends (1992, 1994)

He was Editor of PSI’s quarterly journal, Policy Studies (1988–95).

His colleague Michael Young writes of Willmott in the ODNB:

‘The importance of families was featured in much, but by no means all, of Willmott’s studies and writing; he was particularly interested in extended families and the need for public policies to reinforce them. His work had a substantial influence on housing administrators, social workers, architects and planners, fellow social scientists, and, not least, generations of students. His work was grounded in meticulous empirical research, almost invariably based on a combination of surveys, statistical skills, and data derived from more intensive interviews (and, in the tradition of the Institute of Community Studies, he never failed to carry out intensive interviews himself).’

Material in archives or already published articles


Notes on Image/s

Comment of contributor/s and sources

This entry is a summary of the Oxford DNB entry by Michael Young.  Other information is from the links below.

I have not been able to establish what Wilmott studied at Ruskin and for how long he attended the college. Neither have I been able to discover if he went on to study at another institution. Peter Willmott’s work had a tremendous influence in social policy.  His work is still important today.



Annie Skinner


Annie Skinner

created 13/11/2013 at 9:52 am, updated 24/11/2013 at 4:15 pm

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