'The Life of Riley': A Celebration of Ray Riley’s Life & Work

  • Coats, Ann (PI)
  • Clark, Celia (Team Member)
  • Pike, Sue (Team Member)
  • MacDougall, Philip (Team Member)
  • Fontana, Dominic (Team Member)
  • Stedman, John (Team Member)
  • Brady, Mark (Research Leader)
  • Bazzoun, Kawthar (Team Member)

Project Details


A public day of talk and discussion inspired by the late Professor Ray Riley as a seminal figure at the University and City of Portsmouth. Ray published widely on the geography of defence, industrial archaeology, dockyard technology, First World War women dockyard workers, Portsmouth urban history and heritage, and how socio-economic factors influenced perceptions of heritage. Speakers presented talks relecting some of his wide interests and research – showing how his research and teaching created an enduring legacy.

Layperson's description

An informative day of presentations inspired by Ray Riley's academic and fieldwork career attended by 40 former students, colleagues, associates and family.

Key findings

The diversity of papers confirmed Ray Riley's crucial unique role in creating an academic and research legacy for the University and Portsmouth.

Ray inspired extra-mural industrial archaeology courses in Portsmouth, Southampton, Hampshire and through the WEA which raised awareness of Portsmouth's industrial archaeology. He identified ropewalks and foundries, and chaired Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Society. (Celia Clark)

He established new knowledge and understanding about a key Portsmouth architect, property developer and politician: T. E. Owen's development of Southsea, using Rate books. (Sue Pike)

Ray researched and enhanced the significance of the industrial history of Portsmouth Dockyard. (Philip MacDougall).

Ray Riley was an influential figure in the Department of Geography, linking history and geography to the wider world to inspire students: 'Portsmouth is a place that Ray loved for its special history. Not a grand town, but a place that was real.' He 'ignited that spark to take on a PhD at Portsmouth, to integrate data between geography and archaeology in Langstone Harbour.' (Dominic Fontana)

Taught by Ray on my first degree and subsequent courses, he remained a mentor and catalyst towards becoming an academic colleague at Portsmouth. (Ann Coats)

Ray made a significant contribution to the Portsmouth Papers, by writing ten and was also an important member of the Portsmouth Museums Advisory Board. His work influenced John Stedman's view of Portsmouth's landscape. Ray was also active in industrial archaeology and 'got his hands dirty' in maintaining Eastney Pumping Station engines.

In Ray's final incarnation as creator of the first UoP Heritage and Museum Studies postgradute courses from 2000 to 2012, he inspired fresh cohorts of students by his analytical and fieldwork approach. (Mark Brady)
Short title'The life of Riley’
Effective start/end date28/03/209/09/23

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


  • Heritage
  • Industrial Archaeology
  • Portsmouth Dockyard
  • Portsmouth maps
  • Portsmouth townscape
  • Geography of Defence
  • T. E. Owen
  • The life of Riley:

    Ann Coats (Presented paper), Celia Clark (Presented paper), John Stedman (Presented paper), Sue Pike (Presented paper), Philip MacDougall (Presented paper), Dominic Fontana (Presented paper), Mark Brady (Presented paper), Mark Brady (Organiser) & Ann Coats (Organiser)

    9 Sept 2023

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  • The life of Riley:

    Ann Coats (Presented paper) & Ann Coats (Organiser)

    9 Sept 2023

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference