North Shields-born author Mike N. Coates promoted his range of history books about the town in North Shields Library on Saturday December 9.
Coates was one of several authors who visited the library on the weekend of the North Shields Victorian Christmas Market.
Having spent time in Northumberland Park while growing up in North Shields, Coates enjoys writing about the history of the place where he is from.
“I wrote my first book, ‘The Story of Northumberland Park’, when The Heritage Lottery Fund wanted me to write about the history of the park, as it had become derelict. I grew up playing in the park and I already had some notes about its history, so it was great to write about that,” Coates said.
“My latest one is ‘The Pow Burn’ which is the name of a river that went through Northumberland Park. It seemed unlikely when people told me boats used to be able to go through it, since it’s about half a mile in-land from the River Tyne.
“I found out that it was once an important tributary of the River Tyne and how it started to disappear.”
Despite always being interested in the history of his hometown, Coates revealed he does not have a background in writing:
“I’m 70 now and I started writing 10 years ago when I was made redundant at 60. I used to be an electrician, worked for an insurance company and an estate agents. I also did a course at Sunderland University for six months for my job, when I worked there,” Coates added.
“There were 1,000 copies of ‘The Story of Northumberland Park’ made and I’ve only got about 20 left now, so I’ve sold a lot more than I would have expected. I don’t really make much of a profit, I do it because I enjoy it and to share the history of the area.
“I find things out just by talking to people and by people bringing me pictures and information about history. A lot of my research is also done here in this library. There’s loads of books and resources for local history – I think it [North Shields Library] is the best library in North Tyneside.”
This view is backed up Joyce Marti, a team leader for Discover, the history resource provider for North Tyneside libraries.
Marti said: “This [North Shields Library] is a fantastic library. Newcastle Library is great but for history resources, North Shields has a brilliant range to choose from. We keep newspapers, photographs, documents and items on microfilm – all of which are available for free public use.
“A lot of authors come in to do research and it’s not just local ones who come in to promote books. When it’s for events like this market, it’s great to get the local authors here to meet the public and to promote and sell their books to people from around here.”