‘Steve Shearwater’ is the pen-name of Eddie Wren who is a native of Threlkeld and has Cumberland ancestry dating back at least as far as the 1520s, remarkably less than two miles, as the crow flies, from the house in which he himself was raised at Threlkeld Quarry, over 430 years later.
He likes to joke that his family must have been ardent travelers, given that they made it all of 1¾ miles in four and a half centuries, but this hides the fact that his own line of the Wren ancestors moved from St John’s in the Vale (Forndale*) to Seatoller, in Borrowdale (Overdale*) for about two hundred years, then more briefly to Bassenthwaite (Low Keld*) before ending up at Threlkeld (Linthwaite*). These three places form a triangle around the town of Keswick (Hawthwaite*) which is where Eddie went to high school. His other key line of Lakeland ancestry was the Greenup family of Langdale.
His childhood home was one of the quarrymen’s houses on the south side of the beautiful valley, as implied in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’, in a house with a fantastic view of the well-known and popular mountain of Blencathra. This is in the northern part of the Lake District National Park and the county of Cumbria (then Cumberland), in the north west corner of England. In this context, overseas readers need to be be aware that a national park in Britain is not a wilderness area like the parks in the USA but is instead a stunningly scenic area in which communities and working life continue.
“The Lake District, when it is fine, and it usually is at least that, is about as beautiful as Earth can get…” Bill Bryson, American author.
The men who lived in the quarry houses or beside the nearby railway station naturally also worked at one or other of those places and thus the families were financially poor, but in every other respect it provided for a great upbringing: wonderful parents, plenty true characters among the hard-working and still tight-knit community – now long gone – and the mountains, valleys, woodlands, rivers and of course lakes of the beautiful Lake District as a vast and exciting playground for youngsters. For children with an interest, the area was also an ideal place to learn about wildlife, fishing, catching rabbits or poaching an occasional salmon, or to earn pocket money by helping with farm work.
After three years as a cadet in Hull City Police, 1971-74 – in Kingston-Upon-Hull, to give the city its proper title – Eddie reached the necessary length of service to apply for a transfer and he then came back to his home region as a constable in the Cumbria Police (more accurately but less often called Cumbria Constabulary). He was stationed at several towns around this large county, as well as the Headquarters Traffic Patrol Department, and acquired a very wide range of work experiences which underpin the series of novels he is now creating. He stresses, however, that none of the criminal scenarios or bad individuals in the novels relate to real incidents or real people, they are deliberately fictitious.
In 1981, Eddie took six months unpaid leave from the police and back-packed around seven African countries, including a coast-to-coast crossing of the continent, from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, through Kenya, southern Sudan, the Central African Republic and Cameroon. He has travelled widely to other countries, including participation in a Rotary International ‘Group Study Exchange’ to south west India. Since the year 2006, work in training has also taken him to six Canadian provinces and over 40 American states.
After his police years, Eddie became a professional photographer and later added some freelance writing of magazine articles and columns to his work.
His law-related work also continued with him doing reconstructive and evidential photography and various technical investigations on behalf of lawyers. He has also remained professionally active throughout in research-based driver and traffic safety issues, an impassioned development of his work on the Traffic Department at Cumbria Constabulary — now more grandly-known as the Roads Policing Unit but denuded of adequate staffing and resources throughout Britain… however that’s another story.
Eddie/Steve’s first book in the Cumbria Police Novels series – ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ – was published in November, 2016, and it is hoped that at least another four books will be added to the story.
*Place names in italics and parentheses, e.g. (Linthwaite) represent fictitious names as used in the novels.