Focus: Ian Pickett | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Ian Pickett and I live in Newcastle and with my friend and colleague, John Coats, who is based in Sheffield, we’ve created a number of city insight books. John and I met at university and despite it being more than 20 years since we left, this is the first work we have collaborated on.

What is it you do?
We produce insight books into the great cities of the UK. They’re a mixture of facts, figures, infographics and mini-biographies. Naturally we have started with our home cities and have published the A Great Sheffield Miscellany and A Great Newcastle Miscellany.  We have plans to produce more books and are currently working on Leeds and Bristol.   

How long have you been doing it?
Our Sheffield book was published in 2020 and Newcastle was published in 2021 so this is a new endeavour. The pandemic lockdown has been the perfect opportunity to reflect on communities and what “makes” a city.

What inspires you?
John and I both loved Schott’s Miscellany and from this was born the idea of creating a miscellany of information about our local communities. In addition, we both love data so we delight in finding data-sets and analysing these for insights – for example, did you know that 3,111 ships were registered at Newcastle shipyards between 1762 and 1969 and the most popular name was Albion (8 times)!  

Tell us about your work.
A Great Newcastle Miscellany is the perfect gift idea for Father’s Day or for someone who has lived, worked or studied in Newcastle and has a fond association with the city. The book covers an incredibly diverse array of topics including shipbuilding, origins of street names (did you know Dean Street originates from a dene that used to run down to the Tyne?), the New Castle, the Town Walls, life expectancy in Newcastle wards, and Cheryl’s haircuts!   

What have you got coming up in the future?
We’re actively working on Leeds and Bristol and we already have a plan to expand the series to cover a number of other cities in 2022 and beyond. We do have some ideas about a further concept for local visitors but we want to focus on producing the books first. 

Where can people find out more about you?
We have a website where books can be ordered and we’re also available on Amazon. We’re currently talking to some local stockists so will hopefully be available in shops in the coming weeks.

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