Accountant-turned-author pens maritime history novel

Fred Cooper of Sutherland Grange, New Herrington who has written an ebook on Seaham.
Fred Cooper of Sutherland Grange, New Herrington who has written an ebook on Seaham.
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FRED Cooper is making a splash with his latest book.

The accountant-turned-author, pictured, has been researching family and maritime history since his retirement as Sunderland University’s finance director.

Now the 62-year-old has written A Master Mariner’s, based on people who lived in Seaham Harbour in the 1880s and dramatised their adventures.

Fred has chosen Richard Raine, the master of the collier brigantine, The William Drift, as his protagonoist.

The book details Seaham’s early developments, including its coal and gas industries and the Londonderry family’s influence over its expansion.

Fred, who was born in the town and now lives in New Herrington, gained his passion for the area’s shipping past through his own family history.

His great-grandfather Philip Cooper was involved with trade ships which sailed between the North East and Essex.

His mother’s family also had ancestors who lived on the Island of Cava, in Scapa Flow, Orkney, who were linked to shipping.

Fred said: “Anyone born in Seaham has a natural affinity with the harbour and the harbour area.

“It was tales of the sea that were passed down through the family that prompted me to begin writing historical and nautical fiction.

“The research for the book took more than six months and although it is a fictional story the background and facts, places and people are historically accurate.

“The characters did actually exist and their descendants still live in the local area.

“Many Seaham people have ancestors who were mariners and worked on sailing ships particularly along the North East coast and I am sure that they will recognise the descriptions of the places mentioned and the lifestyle of their ancestors as the characters reveal themselves in the book.”

The book, which is available to download as an e-book on Amazon for £1.99, has already sold 600 copies.

Fred added: “It’s very satisfying to have it finished and I read it back and thought to myself, and thought ‘who wrote this?’ because parts of it are written in such a different fashion.”

Fred is married to Margaret, also 62, and the couple will celebrate their ruby wedding on July 1.

They are parents to John, 28, and Helen Smith, 30, and grandparents to Helen’s children Jack, five, and Alexander, two.

Fred, who is vice-chairman of Seaham Family History Group, plans to write a book on his father’s regiment, the 11th Armoured Division which fought in the Second World War in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

His first book, The Hole-in-the-Wall, was based on a combination of local history, genealogy and martime and appeared in the top 10 best sellers of its genre on Amazon.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham