A 73-year-old man has taken a step back in time to put together a book about his life growing up in Tranent, sharing experiences of The Tower Inn, days with no food, poverty and leaving the town to join the Parachute Regiment.

Matthew Innes was born in Edinburgh in 1949 and grew up in a Roman Catholic household on Tranent’s Coalgate Road with his eight siblings: Ian, Jim, Hugh, William, Jean, Evelyn, Ann and Kathleen.

His parents, James, known as Jimmy, and Euphemia, known as Effie, worked down Tranent’s coal mines before long-term exposure to coal dust forced him to change careers.

Matt’s book A New Beginning is nearing completion.

He told the Courier: “I was brought up in Tranent in the early 1950s/60s; not long after the war.

“People struggled through life and no one was well off.

“There were challenging days living in Tranent and I explain these in detail in chapters two and six.

“I have tried to be as honest as possible without offending anyone and I avoided naming people outside my family.

“Anyone from the older generation still alive today reading this book would know precisely how it was in Tranent during these days, so what is in the book is factual down to the last detail.

“When you say Tranent was a mining town, it was.

“These days, farming was also significant, with families growing their vegetables and trying to make ends meet.

“After spending time in the Parachute Regiment, I joined [American energy company] Halliburton; this was ‘A New Beginning’ in life for me.

“From here forward, my life started to take shape.”

Matt said that his wife Barbara encouraged him to write a book and tell his story and, after hearing some eulogies at family funerals over recent months, Matt decided to get started.

He said: “I thought maybe writing a book would be a good legacy for the family to have. Myself being 73 years old, what better time than now?”

Matt began putting together his book over the last few years when the country shut down as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added: “I have a dust jacket for the book being put together. Pictures are being restored so as to be inserted into the book. After completion, I will print a few books for family members only to read.

“After some feedback, I will make any required further changes, publish the book and share it with others.”