.           The North Shields High Light This beautiful painting, used for the cover of the book, was painted by George Thomson, a friend since my own boyhood. It shows the North Shields High Light in evening sunlight. This iconic building was just a few yards from Stan’s (now demolished) Dockwray Square home. Below the High Light is the Fish Quay (where Stan fell into a barrel of fish guts).           Despite its long history of commercial shipping, the Tyne was always a dangerous river to enter or to leave. The Shields Bar, a 244m long and 183m wide shifting bank of sand, shingle and rock, spread across the river mouth from North Shields to South Shields. At low water mark there could be little more than a metre of water covering the Bar. Seamen also had to confront the infamous Black Middens, a dangerous area of rocks, close to the northern show now dominated by Admiral Collingwood’s monument. From as early as 1536, two towers were built to help sailors negotiate the entrance to the river.  By aligning their ship with the lights, they could find a safe channel. Because the sand banks in the river moved from time to time, the towers needed to be re-aligned at intervals - often quite quickly. The Low and High Lights erected in 1727 were superseded in 1806-1808 with buildings that survive to this day.