I was born in March 1949 in Yorkshire and brought up in a small village called Brotton, near Saltburn. Our family ran a mini-department store at the centre of the village called ‘Nicholson & Petty’. It sold everything – furniture, carpets, hardware, toys and gifts, and was the perfect place to meet people and know the community.

After school, I went to college in London and lived in the Kings Road, Chelsea, at the heart of the so-called ‘Swinging London’ scene. Here I am with flatmates in 1968. (I’m the one wearing the outrageous necktie.) ‘Swinging London’ was never quite what the world reckoned, but exciting enough, especially for a wide-eyed lad.

I never thought in terms of a career but finally became a university lecturer. Before that, I tried my hand as a postman, barman, businessman, Arts Centre manager (where I met my wife), teacher and museum curator. Part of my museum work involved creating and developing the underground mining experience at the ‘Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum’, and here I am (leather jacketed) with some of the development team.

In 1979, I studied for an MA in history and then a PhD, and finally became a history lecturer. It was as close to perfection as I could possibly wish. I loved the job, particularly the teaching work, and became a National Teaching Fellow. A few years back, I retired and now spend my days researching, writing, giving talks, and filling my lungs with as much fresh air as I can manage.

Our son, Bob, is a history lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, so one of the great delights in life is sharing ideas and projects with him. You can follow him on Twitter – https://twitter.com/DigiVictorian.