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 a historian with solid roots in the North East of England.

David has worked as a newspaper columnist, researcher and as a publications editor. He is the author of around fifty books covering history with a special interest in the North East. David struggled at school, though ultimately his passion, enthusiasm and ever-developing knowledge for local history has been a driving force in his learning development and interests.

The England’s North East site began life in the mid 1990s as a history website (under a different name) 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 though still focusing primarily on the region’s history.

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 contributed to a number of history-themed broadcasts. 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 filmed at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea; The One Show (BBC1, 2008) with Phil Tuffnel at Pity Me and an appearance on local politics programme Northern Eye (ITV Tyne Tees, 2008) at Halidon Hill, near Berwick which is one of the region’s most northerly locations.

David contributed to A Great British Story : from the Dales to the Sea (BBC, 2012) with Helen Skelton, filmed 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 TV contributions for Tyne Tees Television have included filming at 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 slightly ‘fluffy’ 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, if darker, talking heads documentary series, Martina Cole’s Lady Killers (ITV, 2008) in an episode about serial-killer, Mary Ann Cotton, filmed at Durham’s Palace Green library.

Other appearances include being interviewed on Countrywise (BBC1, 2010) by Bettany Hughes on Holy Island and by Adam Hart Davis on his How Britain was Built – Newcastle upon Tyne episode (History Channel, 2009), an interview filmed at the top of Newcastle’s castle keep. David was interviewed for a special ‘city rivalry’ history feature as a prelude to a Sunderland v Newcastle ‘derby’ football match on Sky Sports Sunday (2012) that was filmed on Newcastle Quayside; the Sunderland riverside; Beamish Museum and at Boldon.

Over the years David has appeared on several radio broadcasts including BBC Radio 4 (features recorded in Durham City and at Hell’s Kettles near Darlington) as well as being interviewed by Five Live and as a phone guest on Mary Lou Finlay’s show on Canada’s Radio 1. He also featured on an Australian radio broadcast talking about the magic of Holy Island. Sadly, these last two were over the phone interviews rather than expense-paid trips! The Canadian radio appearance featured a stand-off with a United States place-name expert over which country has the most peculiar place-names (it was a draw). In addition David has made several 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

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 now grown-up 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 history-themed maps for tangledworm.com

David’s 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 (now King Charles III) 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) with an HND in Public Admin, 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 high-end 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 local history columnist and as the editor of a number of magazine publications published by that newspaper. For a time he worked for a Durham-based marketing team as a magazine editor for people with learning disabilities, launching and managing the publication project from scratch through a consultative process and receiving national accolades.

David at The Northern Echo in 2002 (© The Northern Echo)

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 then 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.

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

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