David Simpson

North East Historian

DavidSimpsonENENorth East historian, David Simpson is the owner of the England’s North East website. He is a writer, journalist, occasional broadcaster and an historian with solid roots in the North East of England.

David has worked as a newspaper columnist, a researcher and as the editor of several local magazines. He is the author of around fifty books covering history with a special interest in the North East.

The England’s North East site began life in the mid 1990s as a history website and has been described by former Guardian Deputy Editor, David Mckie as “entertaining and erudite”. The site has been partially redeveloped as a regional portal and hub promoting all aspects of the region’s business and culture but at its core still focuses primarily on the region’s history and is constantly expanding.

David Simpson With Helen Skelton
David Simpson on ‘A Great British Story from the Dales to the Sea’ BBC North East and Cumbria 2012 with Helen Skelton, filmed at Sunderland.


Over the years David has regularly contributed to broadcasts. His TV appearances include Ant and Dec’s History of Tyneside (ITV, 2006) filmed at Beamish Museum; The Face of Britain (Channel 4, 2006) with Neil Oliver at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea; The One Show (BBC1, 2008) with Phil Tuffnel at Pity Me and an appearance on the local politics programme Northern Eye (ITV Tyne Tees, 2008) at Halidon Hill, near Berwick, one of the region’s most northerly locations.

David also contributed to A Great British Story : from the Dales to the Sea (BBC, 2012) with Helen Skelton at Sunderland and has appeared in the studio of North East Tonight (ITV Tyne Tees, 2002) with North East TV presenting legends, Mike Neville and Bob Johnson. Other local TV appearances for Tyne Tees Television have included filming at the Gateshead Stadium; Piercebridge Roman fort and Billingham’s Saxon church for local history-focused features.

North East historian, David Simpson
Berwick to Billingham : contributory TV appearances of North East historian, David Simpson

David appeared in a number of episodes of a talking heads documentary series Wayward Women (ITV, 2008) about notable and sometimes notorious women from history featuring contributions from celebrities and historians. This was filmed in what can only be described as a ‘boudoir’ set at the Stonehills studio in Gateshead. He also appeared in a similar talking heads documentary series, Martina Cole’s Lady Killers (ITV, 2008) in an episode about the serial-killer, Mary Ann Cotton, filmed at Durham’s Palace Green library.

Other appearances include Countrywise (BBC1, 2010) with Bettany Hughes on Holy Island; Adam Hart Davis’s How Britain was Built – Newcastle upon Tyne (History Channel, 2009), filmed at the top of Newcastle’s castle keep. David also appeared in a ‘rivalry history’ feature as a prelude to a Sunderland v Newcastle match on Sky Sports Sunday (2012) filmed on Newcastle Quayside; Sunderland riverside; Beamish Museum and Boldon.

David has appeared in several radio broadcasts over the years including BBC Radio 4 (in Durham City and at Hell’s Kettles near Darlington) as well as Five Live and phone guest on Mary Lou Finlay’s show on Canada’s Radio 1 as well as on an Australian radio show (talking about the magic of Holy Island). The Canadian radio appearance featured a stand-off with an American place-name expert over which country has the most peculiar place-names. In addition David has made countless appearances on BBC Radio Tees, BBC Radio Newcastle and other local stations.

David Simpson Sky Sports Sunday feature 2012
David Simpson Sky Sports Sunday 2012 at Newcastle, Sunderland, Beamish and Boldon

Over the years David has been a regular public speaker at a wide variety of organisations and venues including book launches, literary festivals, schools, colleges and professional societies. His speaking style is described as lively, engaging, informative, humorous and entertaining.


David likes to spend his spare time walking or cycling in the local countryside and exploring Britain with an interest in both nature and heritage. He enjoys spending time with his daughter and his interests include photography, eating out, travel, exploring the countryside, wandering through historic townscapes and researching history. He has a particular fascination and curiosity for the region’s dialect and place-names. He also loves creating and designing maps.

David enjoys all forms of communication in a professional environment and is passionate about the economic development of the region as well as its heritage.

Publications have included The Millennium History of North East England (1999) hailed by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. As a younger man, David owned his own publishing business which he set up with the backing of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust and he personally presented some of his early publications to the Prince of Wales in 1991.

Books by David Simpson
A selection of publications by David Simpson (the Year books, Harry Watts biography; My Sunderland, My London and My Scotland were co-authored with Richard Callaghan).

Born in Durham, as a child David lived in the railway station house at Chester-le-Street and once worked at the railway station at Beamish Open Air Museum. As a youngster he lived for a time in the south of the region near Stockton-on-Tees which enabled him see the region from a slightly different geographical angle.

Educated at Northumbria University (or Newcastle Polytechnic as it then was) David worked at the Gateshead National Garden Festival in 1990 where he gave tours to visitors including foreign ministers, company directors, school children from Chernobyl, local mayors and other dignitaries.

For a time in the late 1980s David played as a drummer (not a particularly good one it should be said) in a North East punk-folk-rock band called The Whisky Priests and played in gigs around the country. He has performed as an actor with Durham City Theatre and with the Durham Shakespeare Group in a host of different roles.

With an interest in tourism, David has hosted and performed humorous guided tours for a national hotel conference with actors portraying characters from history and has assisted a tourism business that gave North American visitors tours of the region.

A selection of publications by David Simpson
A selection of publications by David Simpson

For more than a decade David worked for The Northern Echo newspaper as a columnist and as the editor of a number of magazine publications published by the newspaper. For a time David worked for a Durham-based marketing team as a magazine editor for people with disabilities, launching and managing the publication project from scratch through a consultative process and receiving national accolades.

David has worked at the forefront of a number of publishing projects including research for a Heritage Lottery Fund bid and for book writing projects that include a project suggested and backed by the children’s author Terry Deary and another book project instigated by the former Sunderland AFC chairman Niall Quinn, as well as work for the former One North East chairman, Paul Callaghan.

David Simpson, Prince of Wales and Paul Callaghan
Left: North East historian, David Simpson meets the Prince of Wales at Peterlee, 1991. Right launch of the Millennium History of North East England in 1999 with publisher, Paul Callaghan.

In addition to his publications covering North East England, David has authored and co-authored books covering London, Scotland and Liverpool as well as contributing to ‘pocket book’ titles on popular culture and current affairs from particular years in history.

David can be contacted through the England’s North East social media pages on Facebook and Twitter or through the England’s North East contact page.

David on LinkedIn  

North East England History and Culture