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Jeffrey John William Kent|
28 July 1951
|Occupation||Academic, author, musician, campaigner, and publisher|
|Citizenship||Citizen of Mercia|
|Education||Degree in International Relations, 1973|
|Alma mater||University of London, 1970-1973|
|Subject||Port Vale F.C., Rock music, Eric Burdon, double sunsets, regionalist and Green politics, the environment and education|
The Valiants' Years: The Story of Port Vale|
The Last Poet: The Story of Eric Burdon
The Mysterious Double Sunset
The Rise and Fall of Rock
Principles of Open Learning
Only One World (CD)
|Relatives||Harry Poole (cousin)|
Jeffrey John William Kent (born 28 July 1951) is an English academic, musician, and historian.
Kent was born on 28 July 1951 in Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent, England, and was educated at Hanley High School in Stoke-on-Trent. He gained an honours degree in International Relations from the University of London in 1973 and a postgraduate Certificate of Education from Crewe College of Higher Education in 1974.
Kent taught History and Geography at Maryhill Comprehensive School, in Kidsgrove, from 1974 to 1975 and at Leek College from 1976 to 1980. In 1980, he became a full-time lecturer in General Studies at Stoke-on-Trent Technical College, but halved his post in 1986 to enable him to spend more time on his creative work. In 1982, he established and co-ordinated the first Flexi-Study (Open Learning) course in Staffordshire and went on to tutor in History, Geography, Ecology and Sociology. In 1991, he began lecturing in English at Stoke on Trent College and later lectured there in History, Geography and International Perspectives. From 1994 to 2010, he lectured in Writing & Publishing and Creative Writing and from 2006 to 2010 served as the college's UCU branch secretary.
Kent became a freelance author in 1972 and wrote record reviews for Hard Graft magazine. In 1983, he published his first book, The Rise And Fall of Rock, a 484-page critical rock music history, which had taken him eight years to complete. It covered over 1,800 artists and 3,000 records as well as outlining the battle between the creative and business interests in the music industry. By then, he had also written an even bigger tome, a 634-page book of pop music lists, The British Charts, which was never published. In 1987, he published Principles of Open Learning, an examination of a radical, flexible and student-centred method of education. He then wrote the preface to and an essay on The Case for Open Learning for Routes to Change: A Collection of Essays for Green Education, which was published the following year. In 1989, he published a biography of Eric Burdon, the lead singer of The Animals, entitled The Last Poet: The Story Of Eric Burdon. Kent's book used detailed material from extensive interviews with Burdon and remains the only such biography of the famous vocalist.
In 1989, Kent showed his versatility by publishing the first of his seven books on Port Vale Football Club, Back To Where We Once Belonged!: Port Vale Promotion Chronicle 1988-1989, a celebration of the club's return to the Second Division of the Football League for the first time in 32 years. His interest in Vale had started in 1956 when he saw the first-team debut of his cousin, Harry Poole, who became the club's second-longest-serving player. In 1990, Kent published the first-ever detailed history of Port Vale, entitled The Valiants' Years: The Story Of Port Vale. In researching for it, he went across the country to find archived information from past newspapers and magazines, as well as private collections, to build statistics on past seasons and players, as he also did with other books in his Port Vale series. One of his most important discoveries, which he presented in detail in The Valiants' Years, was that the club was probably founded in 1879 and not in 1876, as had long been believed. In 1991, he published Port Vale Tales: A Collection Of Stories, Anecdotes And Memories, which featured the recollections of 65 contributors closely connected with the club, including Mick Cullerton, Ken Hancock, Brian Horton, Stanley Matthews, Harry Poole, John Rudge, Phil Sproson, Roy Sproson, Ray Williams and Kent himself.
In 1992, Kent contributed ten walks, as a co-writer, to 100 Walks In Staffordshire. Later that same year, he published a Port Vale Forever song book to accompany his ten-track album of the same name. It included the lyrics, chords and recording data for each song. In 1993, he published The Port Vale Record 1879-1993, a statistical history of Port Vale, cataloguing all the first team's reported season by season results, appearances, goalscorers and crowds throughout the club's entire history. Three years later, he published Port Vale Personalities: A Biographical Dictionary of Players, Officials and Supporters, which contained the biographies of 1,347 individuals (mainly footballers) involved with the club since its inception.
Kent was the main author of The Mercia Manifesto: A blueprint for the future inspired by the past, which was published in 1997 by The Mercia Movement, a radical political organisation campaigning for the restoration of Mercia as an independent region. The manifesto advocated the development of a new society in the Midlands, based on communalism, organic democracy and ecological balance. In 1998, Kent returned to the world of football and published The Potteries Derbies, which outlined the story of the first-team matches between Port Vale and Stoke City. The book also described in detail all the 180 games that had thus far been contested by the two teams.
Kent was the main author of A Draft Constitution For Mercia, which was based on the principles of The Mercia Manifesto and was likewise published by The Mercia Movement, in 2001. The Movement's purpose in producing the draft constitution was to present it to a constitutional convention, which first met in the spring of that same year. Also in 2001, Kent published the last book in his own name for ten years, The Mysterious Double Sunset. The book was the first, and remains the only, in-depth study of the extraordinary solar phenomenon, which was traditionally observed on the summer solstice from St Edward's churchyard in Leek, Staffordshire, looking at The Cloud, 6.5 miles to the northwest. The book also included details of other double sunsets discovered by Kent, against Chrome Hill, Parkhouse Hill, and Thorpe Cloud (all in Derbyshire), and two quintuple sunsets he observed against The Cloud.
Kent was the main author of The Constitution of Mercia, which was published by The Mercian Constitutional Convention in 2003 after over two years' work. It consisted of 28 Articles and numerous sub-articles and claimed to be 'the ultimate legal authority in Mercia'. The constitution offered the people of the wider Midlands a new holistic society based on organic democracy, co-operative community and ecological balance. In 2004, Kent had a poem, My Friend The Sun, published in the Poetry Now book, Heart of England 2004 and, the following year, another, Staring Down The Barrel of a Loaded Gun, published in the anthology, Animal Antics 2005. In 2011, after a long absence from the writing world, he published his seventh book on Port Vale, entitled, What If There Had Been No Port in the Vale?: Startling Port Vale Stories. The book explored fourteen crucial, and numerous minor, situations in the club's history, which might have ended up very differently and he speculated upon the consequences had they done so. The book was believed to be the first-ever published counterfactual football history.
In 2013, Kent published Staffordshire's 1,000-Foot Peaks, a guide to the 65 hills of the county which reached that height, with a series of circular walks through which all the peaks could be climbed from low ground. The book was believed to be the first ever published on the subject. In 2014, he published Peak Pictures, a book of 137 selected colour pictures of unusual scenes photographed in the southern Pennines between 2012 and 2014. In 2015, Kent published Cheshire's 1,000-Foot Peaks, a guide to the 46 hills of the county reaching that height, which included nineteen circular walks through which all the peaks could be climbed from low ground.
Although Kent is primarily an author of books, over the years, he has written articles on a variety of subjects for Hard Graft,Education Now,First Hearing, NATFHE Journal,Alsager Chronicle,The Sentinel,Eric Burdon Connection Newsletter,TAG Mag,Widowinde and other publications.
Although Kent is mainly a writer, he also occasionally acts as an editor of the works of other writers. He was the editorial adviser for The Wars of the Roaches, which was written by King Doug, Lord of the Roaches, and published in 1991. The book told the story of the ultimately unsuccessful battle of Doug Moller and his wife, Anne, to survive as Britain's last cave dwellers at Rockhall Cottage, high in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Kent was a co-editor of The Man Who Sank The Titanic?: The Life And Times of Captain Edward J. Smith, which was written by Gary Cooper and published in 1992. The book was the first-ever biography of the captain of the Titanic. Kent was the editor of The Mercia Manifesto: A blueprint for the future inspired by the past, which was published by The Mercia Movement in 1997. He was also the editor of Port Vale Grass Roots: From Supporter To Groundsman And Back Again, which was written by Denis Dawson and published the same year. The book was believed to have been the first-ever autobiography by a football club groundsman. The following year, Kent was a co-editor of the second (revised) edition of Gary Cooper's The Man Who Sank The Titanic?: The Life And Times Of Captain Edward J. Smith.
Kent was the editor of A Draft Constitution For Mercia, which was published by The Mercia Movement in 2001. He was also a co-editorial adviser for The Constitution Of Mercia, which was published by The Mercian Constitutional Convention in 2003. He was the editorial adviser for The Flap of Butterfly Wings, which was an anthology written by The Off The Wall Writers' Group and published in 2010. He was the editor of A Potteries Past, which was written by his father, Cyril Kent, and published in 2010. The book was the account by the author of his life and times from his birth in 1915 to 1962. Kent was the editor of Stories From Stoke, a second book written by his father, which was published in 2012. The book was the account by the author of his life and times from 1962 to his death in February 2012. Kent has also undertaken editorial work for Cassell and Company Limited.
Following the collapse of Ironmarket Press, the company due to publish his first book, The Rise And Fall of Rock, Kent founded his own publishing house, Witan Books, in 1980, and became its sole director. Since then, all of the books of which he was the sole author have been published by his company, although two books of which he was a co-author were published by outside publishers. Kent's Witan Books has also occasionally published books by other authors, namely King Doug, Lord of the Roaches; Gary Cooper and Cyril Kent. The Small Press Yearbook 1993 described Witan Books as 'a vehicle for the promotion of the works of Jeff Kent, uncensored stories by real authors and anarchy, ecology and co-operation, leading towards the creation of a new society inspired by the model of Anglo-Saxon England'.
In the late 1970s, Kent was a pioneer of environmentally-orientated music and released an animal rights protest single, Butcher's Tale, with his five-piece band The Witan, on Witan Records in 1981. The band consisted of main songwriter Kent on lead vocals, keyboards and percussion, Chris Barlow on flute and recorders, Colin Lunn on guitars, John Makoko on bass guitar and vocals and Andy Quin on drums and percussion. The same line-up released the two-part environmental concept album, Tales from the Land of the Afterglow, on Witan Records in 1984. Kent then performed benefit concerts for several environmental and humanitarian organisations. After that, he concentrated on his book writing, making only occasional sojourns into the music world. In 1992, he released his first solo work, Port Vale Forever, believed to be the first-ever football club album. In 2000, he released his ecological concept album, Only One World, and made rare live appearances to promote it. Both his solo works were released on Witan Records. His musical style has most frequently been described as folk-rock, in a similar vein to Strawbs. From 2008 to 2013, Kent played percussion in the Glorishears of Brummagem morris dance band and claimed to have invented a new technique of playing the drum tambourine, strapped over a shoulder, with a timpani mallet and a drumstick, to create bass drum and rim shot snare drum-type sounds. In 2013, Kent co-founded Mercia Morris, in which he played various pieces of percussion strapped to his body, and he became the side's music co-ordinator. Instrumental pieces of music from Kent's four albums were used to create the soundtrack of the film, Pictures From The Potteries, which was released in 2014.
Kent was the historical adviser to the video history of Port Vale, entitled Up The Vale!, which was produced and released by Action Sports International in 1998. The video documented the story of Port Vale from its origins to the then present day. Kent was also the historical adviser to a second history of the club, Port Vale Football Club Millennium Documentary, which was produced and released by Cavsport in 2000. Like the earlier video, it charted the club's history from its formation to the then present day. In 2014, he directed Pictures From The Potteries, a film showing the highlights of the 131 cine movies shot by his father, Cyril Kent, mainly in and around Stoke-on-Trent from 1962 to 1988. Kent also wrote the screenplay, did the commentary and composed the soundtrack of the film. The movie was premiered at Stoke Film Theatre on 19 November 2014 and was released on DVD the same year.
Kent first began to campaign on an environmental and humanitarian platform in 1977 through the lyrics of his songs, especially those which came to constitute his two-part Tales from the Land of the Afterglow album, most specifically Mr. 9 till 5 (in which he attacked conventional society), Butcher's Tale (in which he protested against habitat destruction, fox-hunting and the slaughter of seals) and Saxon's Dream (in which he proposed a return to the long-lost freedoms of Anglo-Saxon England). In 1980, he joined the Ecology Party and became a co-founder of the North Staffs Ecology Party that same year. In May 1984, he stood as the Ecology Party candidate for the Odd Rode ward in the Congleton Borough Council elections and polled 10.71% of the vote. Afterwards, he founded the South Cheshire Ecology Party. The following year, he joined the Ecology Party Education Working Group and was a contributor to its book, Routes to Change: A Collection of Essays for Green Education, which was published in 1988. The following year, he left the party (which by then had been renamed the Green Party), disillusioned by its increasing centralisation and by the campaign for celebrities to join and promote the party.
In 1992, he joined the Movement For Middle England, which aimed 'To work for the full autonomy of Middle England [the greater Midlands] within a devolved England.' Having become convinced that MFME would not be able to achieve its objective, he left the organisation in June 1993 and co-founded the Mercia Movement, which held its inaugural meeting in Stourbridge on 19 August 1993. The objective of the movement was 'To re-create a legal autonomous Mercia as an organic democracy, based on holistic principles,' and Kent became its co-ordinator. In 1997, the movement published The Mercia Manifesto: A blueprint for the future inspired by the past, a 128-page book, edited and largely written by Kent. He widened his campaign for the environment by releasing his ecological concept album, Only One World, in 2000 and performing songs from it live on a short solo tour.
In 2001, the Mercia Movement published A Draft Constitution For Mercia, a 20-page booklet edited and mainly written by Kent. The objective of the production of the draft was to put it before a regional constitutional convention for approval, amendment or rejection. The Mercian Constitutional Convention was formed in Birmingham on 17 March 2001 and Kent was elected as its convener. The convention debated the draft constitution of Mercia for over two years and passed a series of amendments to it, although the essence of the draft remained the same and most of its content was unaltered. Thus Kent remained the main author. The convention published the final draft of its work as The Constitution of Mercia, a 21-page booklet, in 2003, with Kent credited as an editorial adviser. The constitution claimed to be 'the ultimate legal authority in Mercia'. On 29 May 2003, Kent and two other members of the convention (Joyce Millington and David Bastable) affirmed and declared the legal independence of Mercia, in Victoria Square, Birmingham.
The convention then renamed itself the Acting Witan of Mercia, which aimed 'to spearhead the full democratisation of the region and the re-establishment of its de facto independence'. The Acting Witan elected Kent as its convener. On 29 May 2004, the first Mercian Independence Day anniversary, Kent and other members of the Acting Witan launched a new currency for the region, the Mercian penny, in Victoria Square, Birmingham, and handed out the coins free to people who registered as citizens of Mercia. By May 2009, Kent and other members of the Acting Witan had registered over 2,000 people as citizens of Mercia. On 26 February 2010, outside the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Kent and Philip Snow (the Acting Sheriff of Staffordshire) made a declaration claiming the Staffordshire Hoard to be the property of the citizens of Mercia.
Kent is an occasional freelance speaker on a variety of topics.
Kent served as the chairman of the Port Vale Supporters' Group from January 1992 to July 1994 and was the co-ordinator of the Save the Vale campaign and Vale Supporter Links in 2003.
On the summer solstice 2001 (21 June) and the day either side, Kent organised free guided viewings of the Leek double sunset, as seen against The Cloud, from Lowe Hill on the outskirts of town, which were attended by large numbers of people. The following year, on the same three nights, he offered free guided viewings of both the Chrome Hill double sunset, as seen from Glutton Bridge, in Derbyshire, and the Leek phenomenon, as visible from the road to Pickwood Hall, the best observation point in the town. The occasions again proved popular and he continued to hold events at these same two locations, with varying degrees of success, until 2013. In 2014, he switched the Leek observations back to Lowe Hill because tree growth over the years had made it a better viewing site than that on the road to Pickwood Hall.
In 2012, Kent became the first-known person to identify and climb all of Staffordshire's 65 1,000-foot peaks, completing his ascents on New Year's Eve. He collectively named the hills The Staffordshire Kents. In 2014, he achieved a similar feat in identifying and climbing all Cheshire's 46 1,000-foot peaks, which he collectively called The Cheshire Kents. Then, in 2015 and 2016, he located and successfully ascended all Shropshire's 197 1,000-foot peaks, which he named The Shropshire Kents.
Tracks: A Winter's Day; Butcher's Tale; Saxon's Dream/May Dance; Stoned (On Life); Annie, with the Dancing Eyes; Kingfisher Brook; Flight; After the Storm; Love Poem (for Pat); From the Mead Hall; Greensleeves.
Tracks: The Poacher; Summer Nights; Crofter's Lament (to Bridie & Russell); The Afterglow; Autumn Poem; Mr. 9 till 5; It's Over; In Search of the Dream; Tomorrow Comes (to K.H.R.); The Seer (Parts 1 & 2); Requiem to the New Year.
Tracks: Burslem Is The Only Place To Be; Heroes Of Yesteryear; The Quiet Revolution; Back To Where We Once Belonged!; The End Of The Season; We Are Black And White; Port Vale Battle Cry; Vale Chant; Travelling Black And White Army; Port Vale Forever.
Tracks: Only One World (prelude); Protect And Survive; The Dream Is Only Just Beginning (Memories Of 1984); Violence Against Nonviolence; I Have A Love Affair (Lady Manifold); Song Of The Battery Hen; All Things Are Connected; Earth Chant; Acid Rain (Is Falling); The Last Tiger; My Friend The Sun; Think Globally, Act Locally - Act Now!; Only One World (reprise).
Editor and main author: