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Peter G Smithurst graduated in Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1968 spending several years as a research chemist before pursuing his passion for industrial and technological history, moving in to museum work.

Peter was appointed Assistant Curator of the Industry and Technology section of Sheffield City Museums in 1975 including the planning and opening of the Kelham Island Industrial Museum in 1982 leading to a promotion to Principal Keeper, Industry and Technology. In 1994 Peter was appointed Assistant Curator of Artillery at the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson before transferring to the Royal Armouries in Leeds for its opening in 1996.

In 2001, Peter became the Executive Director at the American Precision Museum in Windsor, Vermont housed in the Robbins & Lawrence factory where much of the technology for the mechanised manufacture of firearms, including the Enfield 1853 rifle, had been developed before finally returning to the Royal Armouries in 2002 retiring in 2009 as Senior Curator of Firearms. Just prior to retirement Peter was appointed Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield resulting in a PhD from the School of Engineering and Computing in 2020 for a study of the manufacture of the Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle-Musket and was subsequently elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2021.