Anthony Poulton-Smith

Location: Tamworth, Staffordshire
About Anthony Poulton-Smith Public Speaker & Writer...

I am a freelance journalist and author, having had 65 books and many articles, innumerable crosswords and puzzles published, whilst also compiling and marketing quizzes. These books have mostly been on the subject of the origins of place-names and as part of the publicity Anthony has been interviewed several times on the radio and has been privileged to be the guest speaker at several events. The talks not only cover the origins of towns and villages but also hills, streams, districts, fields, streets, and even public houses. Anthony also speaks on subjects covered by his books including ancient trackways; the paranormal; and privies. Other talks include the etymology of unusual words, surnames, pub names. I am based in Tamworth Staffordshire and am currently chairman of Tamworth Literary Festival.

I am happy to travel throughout the UK.

About his talks...

My talks last for approximately an hour, although as the subjects are almost inexhaustible this could be extended to for as long as you’re willing to pay! Following an initial 20 minutes or so when I cover how I got interested in the subject and what it takes to research, and thus produce the book, I open it up to a question and answer session. I work much better ‘off the cuff’ and it also means the audience get the answers to the questions which intrigue them and not just me. It also means the speaker has little more knowledge as to what is coming than the audience does, leaving plenty of opportunity for me to reveal my rather quirky sense of humour.


For a one hour talk, my fee is £45 including travel expenses within the Staffordshire area. I am based in Tamworth Staffordshire and I am happy to travel anywhere within the UK subject to travel expenses

My Contact Details:

07562 653565

1. What's in A Name

This talk last for approximately an hour, although it can extended or cut to suit requirements. Following an initial 20 minutes or so when I cover how I got interested in the subject and what it takes to research, and thus produce the book, I open it up to a question and answer session and encourage audience participation.

2. Not the Normal Paranormal

Here the hour or so sees how I was introduced to the subject and began to write about same, how research the stories, and my own experiences. A snippet or two from each of my paranormal books ends with the tale of the oddest of telephone calls (which I still don’t understand) and then questions from the audience.

3. When Nature Called

Pop to the loo, go, flush, wash. Nothing could be simpler in the modern world but it wasn’t always like this. Our parents, grandparents, and earlier generations had to toddle off down the path to the privy at the bottom of garden. During warm summer days the hole in a board with no flush or sewage system sounds bad enough – but after dark and in the depths of winter armed with only a candle? A number of narratives from the Toilet Tales of Yesteryear and told as only the British can.

4. Animal Myths

Animal Myths is an examination of some of (what seem to us today) the quite ludicrous ideas our ancestors once attributed to our animals. For example the giraffe is the result of a cross between a leopard and a camel; barnacle geese are so-called because nobody had ever seen them lay an egg and they were thought to hatch from the barnacles found on rocks and the bottom of boats; and the hare, a particularly odd creature according to our ancestors, where the female carried eggs on its back (hence eggs being associated with Easter) while the genitalia of the male hare were worn on the belt to ward off infertility.

5. Origins of Pub Names

A look at the beginnings of the pub name and the stories behind the imagery on the sign. My talks last for approximately an hour, although with so many examples the list is almost endless. A brief introduction to the history and a look at the names developed, I examine a selection of local names before opening it up to a question and answer session.

6. Ley Lines

An examination of these and other ancient track ways, how they were laid out and why. A look at the practical, the signs of their existence still found in the landscape and whether our ancestors had a deeper understanding of them as natural phenomena and behind many unexplained events.

7. Salt Routes

Salt routes were the original trade route, one of the very few products which our ancestors were forced to trade for. This made salt valuable and a commodity which has influenced so many walks of our modern life, particularly our language. Find out how they spread, why existed, and how pepper ended the reign of salt.


8. The Saxon Era

A revealing look at the so-called Dark Ages, revealing why they were anything but ‘dark’ and gave us a language, a system of government, many of the imperial measurements, and much, much more.

9. The Fastener Industry

A former engineer’s non-technical look at nuts, bolts, screws and washers. Without them every invention from the wheel to the Industrial Revolution to the present and the future would never have been possible.

10. Talking Butts

The many odd ideas, often accepted as a part of history, which have absolutely no basis in fact

Featured Talk launched in 2016

11. Lost Lines

In 1963 the infamous Beeching Report saw the closure of more than 2,500 railway stations and the lifting of 5,000 miles of track. This released a large amount of land that has since been put to an amazing array of uses. The gentle gradients that were once perfect for trains are in turn perfect as footpaths and cycleways. Stations have become refreshment stops or cycle hire premises on leisure routes. Yards now serve as recreation sites, grassland, retail parks or housing developments. And there are the unusual and quirky: signal boxes used as greenhouses, hen coops and art studios; railway sheds housing mechanics, youth groups and dance studios; and, of course, much has simply become overgrown.

My book Britain’s Lost Lines to be published in September 2016


12. Watling Street

This famous ‘Roman road’ and why it is more than one road and indeed why it was a road several hundred years before the Roman Empire even existed.

13. Humorous Etymologies

Humorous Etymologies features a look at some of the more ludicrous ways words which, coined to mean one thing, were later used in a completely different context. For example the gasket found in all engines began as meaning ‘a little girl’ and later used to mean ‘small rope’; easel, that used by artists, began as a Dutch word meaning ‘donkey’; orange, that is the colour not the fruit, was originally called ‘yellow-red’; quack originally meant ‘the croaking of frogs’; and inch, the measurement, began as ‘thumb’.

Quiz Master

Aside from the writing I have also produced innumerable crosswords and puzzles, and also have compiled and marketed my own quizzes. I still offer my services as quiz master, drawing on more than 25 years experience and a library of well over 100,000 questions covering around 50 categories.

Anthony Poulton-Smith Contact Details:

07562 653565

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