Peter F. Smith has well and truly caught the Maitland bug. The writer and teacher has such a passion for the city, he has released a book about its history. The Footprints of Maitland's Old Hands Trilogy: Book One explores the history of East Maitland, including First Nations history, the High Road and neighbouring streets. It's the first book of three, detailing Maitland's foundational European history. Mr Smith, who now lives in the United States, was a Maitland resident from the 1988 until 2008. He worked at Hunter Valley Grammar School as a history and English teacher, and spent his free time restoring two historic homes. While restoring the homes, he stumbled upon some hidden stories about the past which sparked the fuse which would eventually become the book series. "I restored two nice heritage houses in Maitland and that's one of the things that got me interested in Maitland's heritage and history," he said. "I started exploring legal records to do with the house and uncovered a great story to do with a retired lieutenant from Britain who came over with his daughters and one of them married a medical doctor who then had a story that I followed. "The restoration of the two houses was one of the inspirations for my strong connection with Maitland and Maitland's history." The book features rare and uncirculated historical photographs and early maps, including works by Henry Beaufoy Merlin who photographed every building in West Maitland, East Maitland and Morpeth in the 1870s. Focusing on East Maitland and the river flats between East Maitland and High Street Station, the book covers the area all the way through to Hunter Street and the lateral streets. "There's a chapter on the Wonnarua First Nations people that opens the book, and then there's multiple chapters on the streets of East Maitland, so for example Melbourne Street, the chapter there is something like 60 pages long," Mr Smith said. "It's very detailed, and it goes side by side and tracks who was where, when and what did they do. "The way I've written the book is providing a permanent record of the town at various points in history." Book two, which is planned to be released mid-2024, will cover from Hunter Street, Maitland to the east side of Elgin Street, and the lateral streets including the old racecourse. Book three will cover from the west side of Elgin Street, through to Campbell's Hill, Lorn, Bolwarra, Oakhampton, Telarah, Rutherford and south estates. The trilogy title The Footprints of Maitlands Old Hands is actually inspired in part by The Mercury. "The concept of an old hand is used very frequently in the Maitland Mercury through the 1800s, usually when the editors and writers at The Mercury were trying to give credit to some Maitlander who has already lived a long life in Maitland," Mr Smith said. "They may describe them as an old hand when they're referring to the sort of practical experience and insight and knowledge they've acquired by living in the town. "The footprints is obvious in the sense that I'm trying to walk in their footprints myself by going painstakingly through every conceivable type of historical record I could find anywhere in Australia." To get a copy of the book, visit https://www.xlibris.com/en-au/bookstore or ask for it to be ordered in at McDonalds Booksellers on High Street.