Author switches attention to historic route in county

Author Ian Hall by the traditional Great North Road milepost opposite the cemetery in Alnwick.
Author Ian Hall by the traditional Great North Road milepost opposite the cemetery in Alnwick.

An Alnwick author, who set up his own publishing imprint, has shifted his focus from military history to a ‘road less travelled’ for his latest book.

Ian Hall’s new work is Highways and Byways of Northumberland: The Great North Road, published by his own Wanney Books.

Ian launched the publishing company when he wrote his first book in 2013 – Relics of War – A Guide to the 20th Century Military Remains in the Northumberland Landscape.

It was followed by Alnwick in the Great War and Zeppelins over the North East.

Now he has swiched his attention to the historic route through Northumberland, inspired by a long-time interest in the road, which started when he was living directly beside the road, just opposite the Loaning Gate Toll, to the north of Morpeth.

The book starts off with a brief history of the Great North Road in Northumberland, tracing the story from its earliest days.

Surprisingly perhaps, unlike most of the main roads in England, the Great North Road in Northumberland is not an old Roman road.

It started as a series of track ways along the route north, and only took on a distinct identity with the arrival of the mail coach era when it earned the ‘Great’ part of the name.

It subsequently declined as the railways took over as the main form of transport in the mid-19th century, before finally being reborn as the age of the motor car dawned in the early 20th century.

The second part of the book traces the road’s route through the county (based on the old boundary, which includes Newcastle), from the Tyne to the Scottish border, using wherever possible the older parts of the road.

The book points out many of the interesting sights that can still be seen on this older and quieter route.

Some of these will be well known to local people, but many perhaps will not, such as the old coal mine at Scremerston, Cale Cross at Blagdon and the Royal Arcade in Newcastle.

The book is priced at £4.50, which includes p&p within the UK.

The book, as well as Ian’s previous works, can be bought from or by sending a cheque to 15 Fairfields, Alnwick, NE66 1BT.