I was born and raised in North Shields, close to Stan’s Dockwray Square home - which I walked past countless times as I was growing up. Although Stan was born in Ulverston in 1890, he moved to North Shields in 1895. It was his home town until his family moved to Glasgow in 1905. My grandad and Stan were the same age and both lived in North Shields but it is unlikely that they ever met socially - unless my grandfather was the ‘street urchin’ who threw a soot bomb at Stan!  Stan’s family was well-to-do. My grandfather was orphaned at an early age and brought up in poverty. When I came into the world 50 years later, Stan was at the height of his international fame but my boyhood coincided with the period during which his film career went into decline and he and his partner Oliver Hardy spent their last show business years undertaking 3 long tours of UK variety theatres. Stan returned to North Shields during those tours and my older sister was lucky enough to get very close to him but as a young schoolboy I was not so fortunate. Stan died, aged 75 in 1965, the year I began my academic career at the University of Nottingham. Having never forgotten my own North Shields boyhood and its lasting influence on me, I always wanted to know more about Stan’s life in my home town but that project had to wait for my own retirement. My interest was re-awakened by A.J. Marriot’s encyclopaedic study of Laurel and Hardy’s British tours and I am indebted to him for the encouragement he gave me to press on with the book.   View to the east from Dockwray Square c.1890 Dockwray Square, Stan’s first North Shields home. This photo was almost certainly taken c.1930 by Stan’s close friend Roland Park n The tall building in the centre of the Fish Quay is the Low Light (click on Cover for an explanation)                  View to the west from Dockwray Square      The River Tyne circa 1890 with the Wellesly Training ship in the foreground.