Peter Davies (economic historian)

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Peter Davies in Tokyo, Japan, October 2011

Peter N. Davies (born 14 July 1927) is a British economic historian with interests in the port of Liverpool, sea-based trade with West Africa, the Canary Islands and Japan, the international fruit trade and the military history of the River Kwai campaign in World War II. He is now an Emeritus Professor in the School of History at the University of Liverpool, England.

Davies is the author of several books including, "The Trade Makers, Elder Dempster in West Africa" (Allen and Unwin, 1973), "Trading in West Africa" (Croom Helm, 1976), "Sir Alfred Jones: Shipping Entrepreneur par Excellence" (Europa, 1978), "Fyffes and the Banana, Musa Sapientum" (Athlone Press, 1990), "Japanese Shipping and Shipbuilding Industries: A History of Their Modern Growth" (with T. Chida, Athlone Press, 1990), "The Man Behind the Bridge: Colonel Toosey and the River Kwai" (Athlone Press, 1991), and "From Orchard to Market" (with D.Hope-Mason, Lockwood Press, 2005).

During a long career at the University of Liverpool, Davies has continued the tradition of commitment to Maritime History which had been initiated by Francis Hyde and maintained by John Harris (subsequently Professor of Economic History at the University of Birmingham) and Sheila Marriner. Taken together, Hyde, Harris, Marriner and Davies have become known as the "Liverpool School of Maritime Historians".[1][2]

"The Business, Life and Letters of Frederick Cornes : Aspects of the Evolution of Commerce in Modern Japan, 1861-1912" (Global Oriental: ISBN 1-905246-34-X) was published in September 2008. In this book Davies examines the surprisingly well-preserved papers of Frederick Cornes, a merchant from Cheshire, England who spent much of his life trading in Japan's port city of Yokohama during and after the Meiji Restoration, including the entire correspondence of "Cornes and Company" extending over a forty-year period in the early years of Anglo-Japanese trade.

Davies's latest book, "Across the Three Pagodas Pass: The Story of the Thai-Burma Railway" (Renaissance Books: ISBN 978-1-898823-07-0), was published in August 2013. Davies acted as editor to Ewart Escritt's translation of the personal records of Japanese Railway Engineer Yoshihiko Futamatsu. Davies had come to know Futamatsu through his research for the 1991 biography of Philip Toosey "The Man Behind the Bridge" and secured his agreement that his memoirs could be published in English after his death.[3] The book is therefore a rare account from the Japanese viewpoint of the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway (and the River Kwai Bridge) during World War II.


  1. ^ Davies PN, "The Liverpool School of Maritime History". International Journal of Maritime History (2005);XVII, 2 pp249–260.
  2. ^ Milne G, "Trade and Traders in Mid-Victorian Liverpool: Mercantile Business and the Making of a World Port" (Liverpool University Press, 2000) pp 5–6.
  3. ^ Davies PN (ed), Futamatsu Y "Across the Three Pagodas Pass: The Story of the Thai-Burma Railway" (Renaissance Books: ISBN 978-1-898823-07-0).