Robert Westall, a children's writer, was born and bred in the North of England. Born in North Shields in 1929, Westall's childhood was coloured by the Second World War. Whilst so many of his published works feature the North East, including The Machine Gunners (1975) and The Kingdom by the Sea (1990), his own personal notebooks contain beautifully written treasures entirely about his home county. These notebooks give insight not only to his love of the North East, but his sadness at the changes taking over the coastal villages of his youth.

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Thick walls and heavy arches

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Westall writes of the heavy unbalance towards caravan dwellers compared with fisherman. Westall clearly admires and reminisces over the traditional…

The harbour was falling to bits...

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Westall describes how he feels the villages work alongside one another, Craster with Beadnell, Bamburgh to Alnmouth.

The middle-class in their gloomy hotels,

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Westall's worry is beautifully written here, 'What will they do when the last fisherman is seduced into buying an ice cream van or a supermarket, and…

This is a busy lifeboat station...

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Westall looks into and admires the lifeboat station amongst his trip along the coast.

It was hard to find somewhere...

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This account looks at the 'enterprising Italian Northumbrians' and their delicious ice cream, Westall picks up each little detail of the business and…

If you were lucky...

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Westall writes of the miners move away from the North East who instead seek the 'sun and sand in Blackpool or Costa Brava'. Another beautiful outline…