Cover photo of my first book ‘On Morecambe Bay’
Me, age thirty-three, in 1992 – by Chris Buck
Cover photo of my book ‘Cherry’s Morecambe Bay’
WELCOME TO PETERCHERRY.COM
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MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN 2,500 WORDS
I was born in the seaside town of Scarborough, Yorkshire, England in 1959 to my parents Ian and Rosemarie, both aged twenty-three, so you could say that the coast was always in my blood. I was Christened on the north west coast, in the small ancient church of St Peter’s, in Heysham, Lancashire, where my grandparents, Jack and Florence lived. Jack, who was born in 1898, and reminded me of Fred Astaire – born one year later – was a member of ‘The Morecambe Players,’ a professional repertory company based in The Royalty Theatre, Morecambe (demolished in 1969) and used to act alongside Thora Hird there, in the thirties and forties, as well as in the Grand Theatre, Blackpool (still one of the two largest theatres in that town). Acting was the love of his life, even though his main job was to manage the family business called ‘Cherry’s Dry Cleaners’ in Penny Street, Lancaster. In 1975, my parents and I visited Thora Hird backstage at Drury Lane, London – where she was playing a cleaning lady in ‘No, No, Nanette’ – and she said to my father “I’ve always wanted to know if you woud be as handsome as you father, Jack” She struck me as being a no-nonsense person, but not unfriendly. Jack actually joined the British Army at the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, at the age of just sixteen! (when the minimum legal age was eighteen) but my father said he never once talked about any of his expeiriences, during that war. My German grandmother, Oma, her two sisters, Minni and Trudel, and her two daughters, my mother and Barbel, were thrown out of their large house in Bresslau, in eastern Germany – now part of Poland – by Russian soldiers, at the end of the second world war. They were all put on a cattle train and transported hundreds of miles to the village of Harpstedt, in northern Germany, where all except my mother stayed until the early eighties. My mother dated my father, who was doing his national service a few miles from Harpstedt, in 1957, got married a few months later, and came to live in Lancaster in 1958 and then worked as a nanny for a doctor’s family in Hest Bank. In 1962 we moved to a semi, in Old Marston in Oxford, and my sister, Monica, was born in the Churchill Hospital, Oxford in January 1964. While there, I attended the St. Nicholas Primary School, from April 1964, and a girl in my class, called Karen Hosier, was my first real friend at that time. In 1966 we moved to Woodstock, seven miles north of Oxford, where I attended the Woodstock Church of England Primary School. My best friend then, was a boy in my class called David Drewett, and we used to spend most weekends and holidays in the park of Blenheim Palace, like a latter day Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn! I was about nine-years-old when I started taking photographs with my father’s Olympus Pen half frame 35mm camera loaded with Kodachrome and Agfachrome colour slide films, which started my life-long passion for photography. The continual soundtrack to our childhood in the sixties was, of course, music by The Beatles: their newly released single ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ was playing on the radio, when I returned home after my first day at primary school.
In October 1970, when I was eleven, we moved to Colchester, Essex, and I attended The Philip Morant School. Moving from a quiet village Church of England primary school to this secondary school, with twelve hundred pupils, came as quite a shock to me. The newly released, Marc Bolan’s ‘Ride a White Swan’ was playing on the radio when I got home, after my first day at school. Our urbane and likeable headmaster, Bill Burton, seemed to run his comprehensive school as if it were a minor public school. It was just not done for boys to sit next to girls in class, only boy-boy and girl-girl on twin desks, which in those days were in regimented rows facing forward. The short tubby, balding bespectacled deputy headmaster, who had a deep Welsh accent, was known as Dubber by all pupils. It was ‘compulsory’ for every single pupil to do a vocal impression of Dubber – even me – usually with the catchphrase “Hey boy, I’ve got my eye on you!” due to one of his eyes having a squint. Dubber was also the school’s chief ‘executioner’ with a cane, in the good old days of corporal punishment, but this could not detract from the fact that he was a figure of fun. During music lessons we were required to sing, in a group, songs such as ‘Dirty Old Town’: of course we all chorused ”Dirty Old Man” much to the teacher’s annoyance. One day in music class, before the teacher was there, Charlie Richardson put on a colourful inflatable PVC swimming ring complete with a front protruding smiling duck’s head. The problem was that the ring had stuck tightly around his waist by the time the music teacher arrived, and he was immediately sent to see the headmaster with the ring still firmly in place! Our young German language teacher once so despaired at our class’s ineptitude that he knelt against the classroom wall looking heavenwards with his hands together as if praying. In that exact sublime moment, Dubber opened the door, immediately looked down and said with a straight face “Very interesting!”. The whole class, of course, erupted into laughter. The one person I can thank for really teaching me how to write, was the no-nonsense Miss McAlpine. Her favourite phrase, often directed to the whole of her English class was “You’re too immature!” – to comprehend this or that piece of literature. From time to time, a wrestling battle worthy of Agincourt would break out between many of the twelve hundred pupils of my school and many of the nine hundred pupils of the adjacent Catholic St Benedict’s School, on our linked playing fields. The two ‘armies’ could be differentiated by Philip Morant wearing green blazers and St Benedict’s wearing black blazers.
At the start of my first year at Philip Morant School, age eleven, I became friends with a quiet, beautiful boy just one month younger than me, called Donald Clark, who was slim with straight brown hair, hazel eves and pale flawless skin. I used to sit next to him in class, and remember thinking ‘I’m so lucky to be sitting right here, right now.’ We soon became best friends, and remained so for the whole of the seventies. In July 1978 we went to stay at the house of my German grandmother, called Oma – where her two sisters, Minni and Trudel also lived – in the beautiful village of Harpstedt, in northern Germany, and we happily cycled, almost every day, around the many villages of Lower Saxony. On one warm sunny morning in September 1979, we set off to cycle from Colchester to Cromer on the north Norfolk coast, via Suffolk, Norfolk and the Norfolk Broads, cycling over 150 miles in just two days! I lost touch with Donald after July 1980, but I found out that he got married in April 1983, and has had children. I last met Donald in May 1997, in Frinton-on-Sea with his family, when we had a friendly five minute chat, and I was able to look into the hazel eyes of my first love once more, but I have not seen him since – in the words of Rod Stewart “I ain’t forgetting that you were once mine.” Now back to the 1st of April 1981, and I can tell you the following story which features Donald, who was then working at a branch of one of Colchester’s building societies, in Eld lane. On several mornings previously, I had been photographing from a hide, a wild kingfisher in our garden, which originally took small goldfish from our pond but which I later ‘trained’ to dive down from a perch and take tiny goldfish I had put into a tank of water. For this purpose, I now and then bought small goldfish from the pet shop in Eld lane. One day, I held three goldfish in a clear plastic bag full of water, when I walked into the building society and went to the till where Donald was serving behind glass, with the usual stainless-steel trough between him and the customer. I placed the bag of goldfish on the counter where it stayed upright for a few seconds, but soon slowly capsized, like in a bad dream, decanting its flapping fish and water into the metal trough! Donald laughed, while trying to make a joke of it with his colleagues, but how the fish were re-captured, and the water dried out, are erased from my memory. In my first year at Philip Morant School, I joined the 1st Colchester Scouts, and was in Panther Patrol with my good school friend Christopher Eves, who lived just a couple of hundred yards from me. I remember that we used to play table tennis for hours on end, at his house.
In February 1973, I went on a two-week Mediterranean schools’ cruise: this sounds very posh but the ship, The SS Nevasa, was actually a converted troop carrier. We sailed from Venice and visited Naples, Pompeii, Piraous, Athens, Crete, Knossos, Malta, Alexandria, Cairo and The Pyramids. We were rudely awoken at 6-30 am every morning by a stern man called Jimmy, bellowing “You’re not on your daddy’s yacht now!” Christopher Eves became my ‘best friend’ for the journey, as Donald was not present, and he became keen on a girl he met at an on-board disco. We once encountered a force ten gale, in mid ocean, but the ship had no stabilizers, and virtually everyone on-board was seasick, so we were fed hot Bovril and ship’s biscuits as a remedy. The ship’s deck would then tilt at alarming angles, making it difficult to walk upright along the gangways.
Autumn 1973 marked the start of fuel shortages due to the combined effects of the British miners working to rule and the OPEC oil embargo caused by the USA deciding to supply the Israeli Military. Petrol was rationed, and the Three Day Week was announced by Prime Minister Edward Heath, effective from 31st of December 1973. This meant that all business’ were only allowed to work for three consecutive days, in order to conserve the dwindling fuel stocks of coal and oil. At home, this meant scheduled power cuts in the evenings on many days, and so my generation has memories of the whole family wrapped in overcoats, huddling around a single candle in the sitting room, with the lights, television and gas central heating off ( because it required an electricity supply to work ) night after night, in the winter of 1973 – 1974 !
Seventies music reached a zenith in late 1975 with the release of Queen’s astonishing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and 10cc’s atmospheric ‘I’m not in Love’ both, unusually, six minutes long. In July 1977, I invented and made – in the school workshop – an aluminium device for coupling a low-cost compact Kodak 110 camera to most binoculars, in order to take telephoto photographs. In the following month my metalwork teacher, Leonard Westwood, drove me to Aston University, Birmingham, where my invention was entered in the first ‘Young Engineer for Britain’ competition, and I eventually won second prize. While there, my device was demonstrated by presenter Donny McLeod on the BBC television’s ‘Pebble Mill at One’ programme, and my telephoto colour print of lion’s head appeared on screen, for several millions of viewers to see. While in the green room there, I was thrilled to meet the five members of the pop group ‘The New Seekers.’ Just after I left school in June 1977, my family and I went to see the latest Bond film, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and the title song ‘Nobody Does It Better’ is now an evocative reminder of the time when I left the security of school life behind.
In October 1977 I started a three-year B.Sc degree course in Engineering, at Lancaster University. The Morecambe Bay Area was only a short bus ride away, so I started taking photographs around the bay with my Olympus OM1 35mm SLR camera loaded with Kodachrome 64 colour slide film. My friends at Lancaster University were Dave Ward and Alan Ledbetter, and all three of us used to go orienteering in The Lake District: I particularly remember an event at Great Tower, near Lake Windermere, in the snow. I graduated with a B.Sc honours degree in Engineering, in June 1980. Just before I graduated, in April and May 1980, I finally succeeded in a project I had started five years before, which was to photograph nesting Great Tits, from a purpose built hide. I subsequently had a cover photograph – with the title ‘The Great Tit’s Secret Life’ – and an article with several photographs and text – my first published writing – in an issue of the RSPCA’s ‘Animals’ magazine, of which I was immensely proud, in particlar when I saw a copy displayed in the newsagent of Liverpool Street train station, in London.
In October 1981, I started a one-year M.Tech Master’s degree course in Engineering Design at Loughborough University. I was reunited with my good school friends from Philip Morant School, who were Chistopher Eves, David Hosford – the coolest boy in our class – Charlie Richardson – our class joker – and Clive Schofield – who was always a Rod Stewart lookalike – in the New Year’s Eve of 1981. It was at the Sun Inn, Lexden, which was the pub nearest my parent’s house, and I met them quite by chance early in the evening, and stayed there until midnight. We drank every form of alcoholic drink, including Beer, Tequila, Rum and Cokes, Whisky and Baileys. The after-school warm camaraderie was touching and wonderful, in fact, it was the best evening of my life! but sadly never repeated, even though I went to the same pub exactly a year later, but none of my friends were there. When I walked home, I had double vision for the first time, and in the following morning I awoke with my first serious hangover! I graduated with an M.Tech Master’s degree in Engineering Design, in June 1982.
In April 1982, age twenty-two, I went to see Cedric Robinson ‘The Queen’s Guide to the Sands of Morecambe Bay’ since 1963, and his wife Olive, at Guide’s Farm, in Grange over Sands, Cumbria, to ask for their help regarding my book project, to photograph the people and landscape of Morecambe Bay. Cedric readily agreed to take me out on the bay to photograph his fishing activities, and gave me the address of a Flookburgh shrimp fisherman,‘Tant’ Wilson, whom he said was ‘a decent sort’ and would surely be glad to help. Most of my photographs of the fising activities on Morecambe Bay were taken in that month, during my Easter holiday, while at Loughborough University.
In August 1983, age twenty-four, I joined Ilford Photo Ltd in Mobberley, Cheshire, as a Development Engineer working on several photographic equipments. I then lived in a small detached house in Wilmslow, Cheshire, seven miles away. My good friend at Ilford was Dave Aspaturian, who lived in Warrington with his wife Karen and his three girls, in an impressive house he designed himself. In August 1984, I met a tall, slim, very good looking, twenty-one-year-old, called Andrew Brown, in the ‘High Society’ night-club in Manchester. That night, I had my first kiss, age twenty-five! and we danced to ‘Careless Whisper’ ‘Relax’ ‘Two Tribes’ and ‘High Energy.’ Andrew was a student nurse, and became my first boyfriend, so I often used to visit him at his Tameside General Hospital’s nurses’ home, in Ashton Under Lyne, for the best part of a year.
In July 1986, age twenty-seven, I published 4,000 copies of my first hard back book ‘On Morecambe Bay’ about the landscape and people of Morecambe Bay, which contained 78 of my colour photographs and 8,700 words of my text. This gained me Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in the following year, and I appeared on the BBC television’s ‘North West Tonight’ programme, on location on the bay, with my good friend Cedric Robinson. A quote from the commentary was “Morecambe Bay is the canvas for Peter Cherry’s photographic art” which pleased me. I also received many excellent magazine reviews, praising my photographs as well as my writing: decribed by ‘Cumbria Magazine’ as ‘Lyrical prose.’
In February 1989, I summoned up enough courage to fly the 6,000 miles to Thailand, on my own. During my two-week stay there, I visited Bangkok, Phuket, Chang Mai and Chang Rai, and I certainly experienced the meaning of the phrase ‘culture shock.’ In January 1990, age thirty, I joined Boots PLC at their head office in Nottingham as a Senior Technologist, developing many Boots Brand 35mm cameras. I then lived in a new detached house in Belper, Derbyshire, a one-hour commute away by car. In September 1991, age thirty-two, I became friends with Chris Buck, a primary school teacher, who was two years older than me, and lived in the same estate as me, just two hundred yards away. We were to be the best of friends for the next seven years, and we travelled extensively around Europe using Inter-Rail passes, and visited Egypt, New York, Niagara Falls, Washington, Orlando, New Orleans, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Hollywood and San Francisco.
1998 was a bad year for our family. In the summer, my mother was taken into Colchester Hospital digagnosed with stomach cancer. Thankfully it was soon found to be a lymphoma insead, which was much less serious, and after a stomach operation and chemotherapy, she became cancer free after several months. My elderly great aunt Trudel – who was living with my parents – had to go into the same hospital while my mother was there, and sadly died, from an intestinal hernia wihin a week. My father, my sister and I had to keep this sad news from my mother, until she returned home.
In 2009, aged fifty, I drew on my company pension and moved into a new detached house in Banbury, just twenty miles north of Oxford, which I adored since my childhood days. My sixty-year-old friend and neighbour there, called Charlie, claimed to be a Sultan, and the absolute ruler of thirty-five million of his ‘subjects’ in the Uthura province of Bangladesh, where he lived in a grand palace with his young wife – when not living in Banbury, of course! Not only that, but he also said that his father was ‘The Duke of Burgundy’ when he was born, and and he assumed this title, for several years after his father died – it is true he had the Belgian surname; Vervoort, as I have seen many of his envelopes when I would sometimes save post for him. In May 2011, I published 4,000 copies of my second book ‘Cherry’s Morecambe Bay’ depicting the landscape and people of Morecambe Bay, which contained 110 of my colour photographs and caption text. This also attracted many great magazine reviews.
In February 2013, age fifty-three, I moved into a detached house in the north of England, and I am still living there in May 2023, age sixty-three, single and retired. I am very fortunate, in that my parents, both aged 87, are still healthy and active and continue to live in their own house.
My favourite films: The cinematic masterpiece ‘Death In Venice’ by director Visconti – starring the exquisitely beautiful, fifteen-year-old Swedish boy, Bjorn
Andresen & the classic British comedy ‘Withnail and I’ starring the brilliant actors; Paul McGann, Richard E Grant and Richard Griffiths
My favourite TV drama: ‘Heartstopper’ – Netflix, April 2022 – eight half-hour episodes – I wish this beautiful series had been made when I was eleven!
My favourite books: ‘The Folding Star’ by Alan Hollinghurst & ‘Moab Is My Washpot’ by Stephen Fry – the first part of his autobiography
My favourite classical composers: Mahler, Beethoven & Wagner
My favourite music groups: Electric Light Orchestra, Roxy Music, Queen & T-Rex
My favourite solo singer – songwriters: David Bowie, Elton John & George Harrison
My favourite places: The Morecambe Bay Area, The Lake District, Woodstock & Blenheim Palace, Oxford – in particular, The Trout Inn – Colchester,
Brighton and Harpstedt – in northern Germany
My main interests: Photography, music on CDs: classical and rock & pop from the sixties to the nineties ( I have over 450 CDs ) films and TV
on DVDs and Blu-Rays ( I have over 400 discs ) driving in the countryside in my silver Porsche Cayman S, watching
snooker on Eurosport and tennis on Prime Video. .
You can view my sixty-two photographs depicting the people and landscape of the Morecambe Bay area, which appeared in my two books: ‘On Morecambe Bay’ 1986 and ‘Cherry’s Morecambe Bay’ 2011, by clicking on the four buttons, above.
You can download my entire 11,200 words of text from my first book ‘On Morecambe Bay’ by clicking on the On Morecambe Bay – Free Text Download button below. This free download is presented in PDF format, to read on screen within two seconds, and can then be further transferred to a Kindle reader, or similar reader. You can also print the text out, if you wish, on 14 pages of A4.
You can see my 28 minute film about Cedric Robinson, entitled ‘Cedric Robinson’s life as the Morecambe Bay sands guide’ on YouTube by searching cedric robinson peter You can also see my six further films on YouTube, about Cedric’s life as guide, by searching sandmanomb which are between one and two minutes long . All seven films were shot by me in 2010.
YOU CAN BUY second hand copies of both of my books from AbeBooks.co.uk :
Peter Cherry ‘On Morecambe Bay’ 1986 – 78 colour photographs with 8,700 words of text
Peter Cherry ‘Cherry’s Morecambe Bay’ 2011 – 110 colour photographs with caption text
TO MY GOOD SCHOOL FRIENDS, it would be wonderful to hear from you after so many years:
Donald Clark, Karen Hosier, David Drewett, Tim Hundy, Ian Filby, Simon Milner ( who went on to read the BBC shipping forecast! ) Carey Grey, David Hosford, Charlie Richardson, Christopher Eves, Andrew Courtier, John Appleton and Clive Schofield: firstname.lastname@example.org
IN MEMORY OF my very good friends of forty years, Cedric Robinson, age eighty-eight, and his beloved wife Olive, age ninety-six, who both sadly died in 2021, within three months of each-other. They will be greatly missed by the very many people who knew them personally, and most of the estimated half-a-million people who came on Cedric’s famous cross bay walks, during the fifty-seven years he was ‘The Queen’s Guide to the Sands of Morecambe Bay’ from 1963 to 2019. Tant Wilson and his eldest son Tony, also sadly died several years ago.
PHOTOGRAPHS OF MY FAMILY, MY FRIENDS AND I
My father’s best ever photograph – me age five, in 1965, with my mother in Harpstedt, Germany, taken with his Olympus Pen half frame 35mm camera, with Agfachrome film
My father’s second best ever photograph – me, age six.
My best friend at Woodstock Primary School, David Drewett, in the park of Blenheim Palace – Tom Sawyer to my Huckleberry Finn!
Me, age ten, on Arnside Knott – by my father, Ian. The Olympus Pen half frame 35mm camera he used, loaded with Kodachrome colour slide film, which I was then allowed to use, started my life-long passion for photography
Me, age eleven, at The Philip Morant School, in Colchester, in 1970 – with ginger hair and freckles – not like today!
Me, with my best friend Donald Clark, both age fifteen, at The Philip Morant School, in Colchester, in 1975 – look at the hair! – enlarged from a tiny part of a panoramic photograph
Me, being photographed for the Colchester Evening Gazette, age sixteen in 1976, with my invention for coupling a normal camera to a pair of binoculars, in order to take telephoto photographs
My class, age eighteen, on the day we left The Philip Morant School, Colchester, in June 1977 – from the top left – Donald Clark, Peter Howell, Peter Yeats, Christopher Eves, Martin (top of his head) David Hosford, Andrew Courtier, Charlie Richardson, Tim Kessler and Harry. I am sorry to say that I cannot recall any of the girls’ names!
Me, age twenty-five, with my first boyfriend, Andrew Brown, age twenty-one, in August 1984.
Andrew Brown, age twenty-one, on the Isle of Skye, in September 1984
Me, age twenty-five, in August 1984 – by Andrew Brown
Me, appearing on the BBC programme ‘North West Tonight’ in October 1986 – all about my first book, ‘On Morecambe Bay’ A quote from the commentary was “Morecambe Bay is the canvas fror Peter Cherry’s photographic art” – which pleased me
15. My friend, Michael
Me, age thirty-three, with my good friend and travelling companion, Chris Buck, age thirty-five, in Egypt, in 1992
Chris Buck, age thirty-five, in Egypt, in 1992
Me, appearing on Channel Four’s quiz show ‘15 to 1’ in October 2001
My Parents Ian and Rosemarie, on a cross bay walk in the mid 1980’s
My sister Monica, in the early 1980’s
My great aunt, Minni
My German grandmother, Oma
My great aunt, Trudel
My aunt, Barbel
My grandad, Jack and my grandma, Florence