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Publishing company embracing East Anglian history returns to hometown

PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:46 15 March 2018

Gareth Davies will be running Poppyland Publishing in Lowestoft after the business spent more than 30 years on the North Norfolk coast.
 Picture: Nick Butcher

Gareth Davies will be running Poppyland Publishing in Lowestoft after the business spent more than 30 years on the North Norfolk coast. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

A publishing company celebrating all there is to love about the region’s rich history has moved back to its original home.

Peter Stibbons after Poppyland Publishing celebrated their 100th book launch.
 Mr Stibbons has retired after running the company for 42 years. Picture: Antony Kelly Peter Stibbons after Poppyland Publishing celebrated their 100th book launch. Mr Stibbons has retired after running the company for 42 years. Picture: Antony Kelly

Poppyland Publishing, which began issuing local interest books in 1976, was initially based in Lowestoft before moving to Cromer in the early 1980s.

After spending more than 30 years on the North Norfolk coast under the stewardship of Peter Stibbons, the imprint was recently acquired by 59-year-old author Gareth Davies and made its official return to Suffolk on March 1.

Poppyland first came into being when Mr Stibbons wrote his first booklet and, in the ensuing years, more than 150 titles have been published.

Reflecting on the birth of Poppyland and the much-loved publisher’s ethos, Mr Stibbons said: “I found a local printer and produced my own booklet on the subject. Soon others were asking whether I would publish their work as well.

Mr Davies, who has writen several local interest books himself, will oversee operations from his home. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Mr Davies, who has writen several local interest books himself, will oversee operations from his home. Picture: Nick Butcher

“The imprint specialises mostly in local history, and all the books and booklets must contain an element of primary research by the author.”

Mr Stibbons’ literary contribution to the region was recognised at the East Anglian Book Awards in 2017, when he picked up the Exceptional Contribution Award.

Having retired aged 70, his friend and former colleague Mr Davies couldn’t bear to see another regional publishing company fall by the wayside.

He will run the imprint from his home in Oulton Broad, providing enthusiastic authors with the means to have their work distributed.

Mr Stibbons picking up the Exceptional Contribution Award at the East Anglian Book Awards in 2017. Picture: Nick Butcher Mr Stibbons picking up the Exceptional Contribution Award at the East Anglian Book Awards in 2017. Picture: Nick Butcher

“There are very few local publishers around these days and it’s important that Poppyland continued for as long as possible,” said Mr Davies, who specialises in local 19th century history and has had several of his own books published by Poppyland.

“Peter has always said to me that two things are crucial: the books that we publish have to be rigorously researched, and we as a publisher must try to give people an opportunity to get their voice’s heard.

“It’s all about saying there is a whole range of local heritage that people can read about and celebrate.”

Mr Davies will now set about handling proposals sent to him by authors and historians. Books in preparation include booklets on Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft as part of the publisher’s ‘Town and Village’ series.

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