Tributes to historian and ex-police inspector Norman Kirtlan, known for work with Sunderland Antiquarian Society

Tributes have poured in for local historian and former police inspector Norman Kirtlan, who has died aged 70.

Norman joined Northumbria Police at the CID in Spout Lane, Washington in 1974. He successfully sat his sergeant, then inspector exams.

As a sergeant in Gosforth, Newcastle, he was particularly disliked among the criminal fraternity for being a Mackem as well as a police officer. He was only a sergeant for two days before being promoted to acting inspector at Byker then Kenton.

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He worked in training in Harrogate for a few years before returning to Sunderland. Norman also did undercover duties with the drug squad. His last year on the force was spent in Gateshead before his 2006 retirement.

Norman Kirtlan has died aged 70. The picture on the right shows him on duty in the 1990s.

A writer, artist and former Bede Grammar School pupil, one of his passions was local history and he was a pivotal member of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

Norman, from Southwick, gave talks and was the society’s archivist, providing invaluable help with many Echo historical features over the years. He also appeared on television in a Michael Portillo travel programme.

A well-known figure on Wearside, the Antiquarians’ Facebook page has received hundreds of messages of condolence and appreciation for Norman. He passed away on November 19 after being ill for some time.

A statement from the society said: “Norman was a wonderful, unique man. He was the kindest of men, someone who had time for everyone and who loved being part this society.

Norman Kirtlan in 2014, showing artefacts donated to Sunderland Antiquarians. Picture by Kevin Brady.

“He was, as one of our members always said, the very heart and soul of the society. Nothing was ever too much trouble to him. He would sit and listen to everyone; he would give advice where needed and would often have us in fits of laughter.

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History was his passion and he would often say that he wished he could go back in time, with a modern camera, to capture life as it was.

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“He was, quite simply, the best. It is safe to say that, without Norman's input, the society would not be where it is today.”

The Antiquarians said: "It is safe to say that, without Norman's input, the society would not be where it is today.”
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Secretary of the Antiquarians, Phil Curtis, told the Echo: “What a loss; to his family, the local community, the city and the society.”

Norman leaves behind his wife Sheila and sons Scott and Glenn.

Norman Kirtlan rose to become an inspector with Northumbria Police.