Metroland: New book on the Tyne and Wear Metro to offer a look into "a snapshot in time"

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Tyne and Wear's Metro system provides the backdrop for a new book about the region.

A Sunderland author is preparing to publish a new book about the Tyne and Wear Metro named Metroland.

Subtitled ‘The people, places and history encountered via the Tyne & Wear Metro,’ the book is described as a piece of travel writing about the North East of England, specifically the parts reached by the Metro.

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Using the 60 stations on the system as the basis for each chapter, author Keith Watson mixes observations on life with recent and more traditional history, sport and humour, as well as drawing upon the personal experiences and memories created after being born in Sunderland, raised in Washington, schooled in Newcastle, and having one set of grandparents on Tyneside and the other on Wearside.

During his trip around the Metro network, the Watson delves into the past with the Venerable Bede and William the Conqueror, discovers Monkseaton's intriguing fart lamps, and remembers when Look North's Dawn Thewlis threw a bucket of cold water over him.

For sports fans, the author also visits the field where Alan Shearer learned to kick a football, and looks back at the careers of world class athletes Brendan Foster and Steve Cram.

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"First and foremost, the book is framed around the Metro stations, but it is also about the people, places and history of the area," explains Keith.

"I’m not a historian or a sociologist, a political aficionado or an architectural expert, I’m a newspaper sports sub-editor by trade, so this book is not intended to be an in-depth dive into particular topics, and is simply a snapshot in time, not an exhaustive study.

"I'd like to think I'm reasonably well-placed to write about the whole region as I'm from Sunderland, but I know Newcastle very well, and growing up I spent a lot of time in Wallsend, Gosforth, Jesmond and Whitley Bay, for example.

"The Newcastle-Sunderland rivalry, a lot of people see a massive divide, but I know from personal experience that Mackems and Geordies mix a lot more than some people would have you believe, and even the most diehard football fan of one persuasion or the other is probably glad deep down that the other side is there just so they can dislike them."

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In terms of how the book came together, Keith adds: "I visited each Metro station and walked around the surrounding areas. In addition to what I saw, I also researched the history of each area, mediaeval and more modern.

“Some chapters have more obvious points of discussion, such as the city centre stations of Newcastle and Sunderland or the other large built-up areas, but even the quieter stations have some interesting social history to uncover, and because I am writing about the area I grew up in, there are also plenty of personal memories to embellish the narrative."

The book is available to buy now through A Love Supreme.

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