David Reeder, who has died aged 74, made a major contribution to the understanding of two academic fields: urban history, and the history of education. The son of a railway fireman, David was born in Hull in 1931 and evacuated during the war from the family's council house first to Rawcliffe, near Goole, and then to York in 1942. There David attended Nunethorp Grammar School, where he was head boy, and won a scholarship place to Durham University, graduating in 1952. David Reeder began a 50 year association with the University of Leicester when he embarked upon a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education course in 1952. Heavily influenced by his National Service experience as an RAF Education Officer (1953–56), and by his spells successively as a teacher and superintendent of the Evening Institute in Leicester (1956–59), lecturer in history at Westminster College (1959–62) and as Head of the Faculty of Education at Garnett College, Roehampton (1962–66), David initially established a reputation in nineteenth-century British history by publishing general historical syntheses.