AS The Gazette’s former historian, Robert Brown has written many articles that have provided a fascinating insight into Basingstoke’s past.

He developed his keen interest in the town’s history when, as a 16-year-old, he worked for WH Smith, in Market Place.

A customer came in asking for a book on Basingstoke’s history and was told that no such book had been published.

The annoyed customer rebuked young Robert, who said: “Then you better get one written!”

This also led to an interest in photography, with Robert spending hours roaming the streets, taking pictures as Basingstoke transformed from a London overspill town to the busy place it is today.

His pictures and articles certainly proved to be a popular read.

1. Who was your childhood hero and why? Antonio Magliabechi – an Italian man of the 17th century with a fantastic memory.

2. What is your most precious possession and why is it important to you? My 35mm camera, which has photographed all my pictures.

3. What was the first record/CD you bought? A 78 rpm record of Enrio Caruso, the tenor.

4. What is the radio/television show you hate to miss? The television news.

5. What is your favourite film? The Sound of Music.

6. What is your pet hate? Cyclists on pavements (dangerous to pedestrians).

7. What are you reading at the moment? The Life and Times of Winston Churchill.

8. If you were choosing a last meal, what would it be? A roast dinner.

9. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be? Samuel Pepys, the 17th century diarist.

10. If you had a time machine where would it take you? To Victorian Basingstoke.

11. If you were stranded on a desert island what luxury would you choose to have with you? A razor and shaving soap.

12. What sports team do you support? Manchester United Football Club.

13. What was your first job? Bookstall assistant.

14. If you could take over someone’s job for the day, whose job would you choose? An editor of a newspaper.

15. What worries you the most? The world’s many problems.

16. What is your proudest moment? The publication of my first book on Basingstoke in 1987.

17. What would you like your epitaph to be? He kept smiling in a world of troubles.

18. What’s your guilty pleasure? Eating Kit Kat chocolate biscuits inch by inch.

19. What one thing could change society for the better? People should stop and pick up their litter.

20. What three words best describe you? Cheerful, helpful, loveable.