Blyth memories recalled by former journalist Jim Harland

DETECTIVE work into the fascinating characters and events of his Northumberland home town is proving to be a lasting labour of love for retired journalist Jim Harland.

DETECTIVE work into the fascinating characters and events of his Northumberland home town is proving to be a lasting labour of love for retired journalist Jim Harland.

When he decided to write a book chronicling more than seven decades of life in Blyth he expected it to be a one-off project.

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Blyth Memories was published last year but it was such a success – and led to Jim unearthing so many interesting stories and reminiscences – that he decided a single volume wouldn’t do justice to his research.

Now Blyth Memories Part 2 has been officially launched and Jim already has plans for a third volume, and possibly a fourth.

The former Blyth News, Journal and Evening Chronicle and BBC journalist uses a host of colourful local characters to help bring significant events from his home town’s past to life. The latest book features, among others, local MP Ronnie Campbell, former GP and police surgeon Dr Reg Carr and magistrate and councillor George Robson.

Blyth Memories Part 2 is divided into 20 chapters and illustrated by 120 photographs.

It highlights the demise of coal mining in the town, the story behind the almost unknown PoW camp at Kitty Brewster during the Second World War, the great fires in the town centre in 1904, the fight to establish a local hospital and how three Blyth men fought in the Spanish Civil War.

There are also memories of the man who brought the first cinema to the town, the oldest shop and the Ferguson family behind the successful Blyth transport business. Jim, 76, who lives in Cypress Gardens, Blyth, said: “The first memories book I published last year was such a success that the shops selling it were being asked if another one was going to be written.

“I realised there was enough material to do a 2011 edition, and also to start on a third book for 2012. I was born and bred in Blyth so for me this is a labour of love. I was a working journalist here when we had the shipyards and the mines and Blyth was really on the map. I thought we were losing too much history and memories with people dying so I decided to do the book.

“I like to think I bring a human touch to the books by using characters and individuals to bring each chapter to life. I have had help from people who also want to retain the memories of Blyth.”

Blyth Memories Part 2 contains chapters with enticing titles such as Blyth On Fire, The Hospital Heroes, The Frank Sinatra of Blyth and The Red Fighters of Blyth. It is published by Summerhill Books, costs £9.99 and will be on sale at shops in Blyth, Morpeth and Newcastle. It can also be obtained by post by ringing 01670 352825.

 

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