Growing up in Norfolk (born at the old Norfolk & Norwich Hospital), Robert was captivated by boats and trains. The son of Major James Forsythe MBE, a founder of the Norfolk Wherry Trust, Robert learnt first hand about the challenges of fundraising and the work involved in keeping heritage afloat!
As an undergraduate Robert headed north to Durham to study Theology. Subsequently he discovered how to connect Theology, W.H. Auden and the Durham moors in navigating students around the industrial remains of the North Pennines.
He is a prize winning student from the Ironbridge Institute, going onto work for museums until becoming freelance in 1990. In those years his key achievement was being one of the core team who relocated the Linthouse Engine Shop which is hailed as a regeneration masterpiece here.
Robert’s extensive bibliography of his published work is available here. . He offers a wide programme of presentations. Here is what Jill Armsby from Warwick Bridge Womens Institute had to say in 2013 “Thank you very much indeed for giving last night’s talk. I hope you enjoyed it as much as the audience did. The feedback we got from members and guests was excellent. We were a bit stunned to get 32 visitors!” (as well as their members)..
When he is not passionately writing and discussing ephemera, transport, poetry and landscape, test him out on oatcakes and yes on teashops!
Right at the end of 2011 Hexham MP Guy Opperman paid tribute to Robert’s advocacy naming him as a Local Champion: “the fascinating Robert Forsythe, who works tirelessly in Prudhoe”.
“Those who retain Robert to help explore the North can expect an eye-opening time”. Will Atkins, a Faber author and editor said this after a day spent between Hartside and Rookhope in November 2012 “‘Robert Forsythe is a natural guide: passionate about the landscape and its heritage,wide-ranging in his knowledge, and excellent at making connections.”
Pam Forbes (of Know your North Pennines and Friends of the North Pennines) wrote in 2013 “You always have a different angle to your stories which is a huge talent and makes for entertaining and informative sessions which stay in the head!.”
Researchers applaud Robert. David Wright in The History of Resin Transport Modelling (2013) wrote “When it comes to model railways, I turn first to Robert Forsythe, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of model railways is always impressive, and never fails to locate some gems”.
During 2013 there have been two highlights which will last. One has been holding the first Wikimedian residency in North East England. This was with Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums. The other saw him transformed into Matthew Plummer chairman of the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway celebrating its 175th anniversary on Waterloo Day 18th June 2013. This event was well covered by the media.