As a member of the fifth generation of his family publishing newspapers, he started selling them on the South Shields beach where his family founded the local paper in 1849. He ended as chairman of Westminster Press with its 120 newspaper titles. He retired early in 1996 to create a landscaped garden at Columbine Hall and to research his family.
His first book, published when he was 25, was a family tree, his second, Jobs for the Boys: the Story of a Family in Britain's Imperial Heyday, was published in 2009 and is the story of the people behind the genealogy. Over 40 years he has been collecting items with family connections. The flag flying above the house is of his coat of arms. He was chairman of Invitation to View from 2003 to 2009.