Kents Bank Station Library News

Newsletter no. 1 November/December 2023

Kents Bank Station Library, Kentsford Road, Kents Bank, Grange-over-Sands LA11 7BB

Welcome to our first, no-frills, newsletter. Hope you enjoy it and find it useful. The library held its’ first open event on October 21st and attracted around sixty visitors.

Our open day on October 21st: cause for celebration!

It was a convivial event and guests enjoyed the snacks and conversation.  Hope to see you at our pre-Christmas event on Saturday December 9th, and our first talk on Tuesday December 5th (see below). Please see our new website for up-to-date news:

A railway library on a working station

Kents Bank Station has a new attraction alongside its magnificent gardens and The Beach Hut Gallery – a library!  It’s a library about railways – and transport generally – located on a working railway station. The stock is based on the collection of Prof. Paul Salveson, founder of the ‘Community Rail’ movement, but is gradually expanding thanks to generous donations from well-wishers.

The emphasis of the collection, comprising several thousand titles, is on the social history of railways – including rural and ‘community’ railways. But it covers all aspects of railways and transport, in the UK and abroad. It includes a growing number of children’s railway books. Over the next few months we will be getting the collection into good order and beginning the lengthy process of cataloguing the collection.

A view of the station from the ‘shore’ side. We’re right next to Morecambe Bay!

The library is primarily for reference – it has material which is scarce and often only available in specialist collections such as the National Railway Museum in York (see below). However, it is developing a small lending section, which people can use ‘in person’, also free of charge. There’s a small but growing number of books for sale.  Visitors are welcome to use the cosy Reading Room complete with a traditional stove – and help themselves to tea and coffee.

Who’s who….

The Kents Bank Station Library will, in the short term, be run by a not-for-profit association (‘Kents Bank Station Library Association’). We are looking at options for charitable status, or becoming a community interest company (CIC). The library is managed by four individuals each with their own extensive skills and experience. They are:

Prof. Paul Salveson is co-owner of Station House. His railway/transport book collection forms the core of the Library collection. Paul worked for most of his life on the railways, from guard and signalman to senior manager. He was the Founder of the Community Rail movement and is also a published writer and historian. He was awarded an MBE ‘for services to the railway industry’ in 2008.

Linda Nuttall is co-owner of Station House and had a long career in textile engineering, helping run Bolton-based family business Hargreaves Hamilton. She is active in voluntary activity including Riding for the Disabled and also volunteers one day a week for Bolton Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

John Kitchen spent most of his professional life as a librarian, working in large industrial concerns such as ICI. He made a late career move to become Community Rail Officer, initially for the Mid-Cheshire Line and then Community Rail Cumbria. He is a life-long railway enthusiast and involved with The Bahamas Locomotive Society.

Mark Barker has had a life-long career on the railways, working in various senior management roles, including Stakeholder Manager for Northern. He is involved in his local church in Sandbach and co-ordinates the Best Kept Cheshire Stations contest, a major annual event involving stations and their communities across Cheshire.

New additions

We continue to get some really interesting donations from friends and well-wishers, near and far. Perhaps the most interesting contribution came from Phil Wallis (‘Amos’) Wigan conductor who dropped off a bag of books from the train he was working from Barrow.

Wigan conductor ‘Amos’ delivers a new consignment of donated books to Kents Bank Station. Thank you!

We’ve also had a full set of Model and Miniature Railways, published in the 1970s, and some very useful Oakwood Press branch-line histories. Many thanks to our donors.

Coming events:

On Tracks Broad and Narrow: Irish Railways in the 50s

Our first talk will be on Tuesday December 5th, at 19.30. Railway historian and life-long enthusiast Michael Davies will talk about ‘Irish Railways in the 50s’, including both narrow-gauge and broad-gauge operations. Michael was one of the few people still about who travelled on the Tralee and Dingle Railway, which closed in 1957! The talk will be illustrated by Michael’s photos. Please note we have very limited space and may have to limit numbers. So it’s essential you book in advance: or ring 07795 008691.

Our pre-Christmas open day: 12.30 to 17.00 Saturday December 9th

Come along to our open day, being held jointly with neighbouring beach Hut Gallery. It’s an opportunity to explore the collect, borrow books and buy a small selection of our surplus stock (and help the library grow). There will be mince pies, mulled wine and home-made soup. No need to book, just turn up, using the street entrance, next to Beach Hut Gallery.

How the Opening of the Railway in 1857 changed Grange-over-Sands: a talk by Rob Martin. Grange Library: Tuesday November 21st at 14.00. Rob is a retired History teacher and has been researching the changes to the Cartmel Peninsula caused by the construction of the Furness Railway. Admission £1 advance booking essential. Ring 015395 32749 or from Grange Library.

Open days

We will be open on the first Saturday of each month, 11.00 to 16.00, starting Saturday January 6th. There will be tea, coffee and biscuits available. The Beach Hut Gallery, next door, will also be open.

Using the Library

If you have a particular interest, or want to consult a particular book or magazine, contact the library to arrange an appointment. The email address is or ring 07795 008691. The website is The library welcomes donated books and other printed material that is relevant to transport. Duplicate books will go into the ‘lending’ section. If we get more than two we will offer the book for sale to help raise money for the library running costs and development. The collection of some 3,000 titles covers all aspects of railways and transport but with an emphasis on social history. Sections include:

  • Social history of railways (Britain and Ireland but also international)
  • Technical documents, maps and plans
  • Trade union histories
  • Railways and tourism
  • Railway company histories
  • Biographies and reminiscences
  • Children’s books
  • Light railways and narrow-gauge
  • Branch line histories
  • Stations and their communities
  • Railway architecture
  • Civil and mechanical engineering
  • Signalling and operating the railway
  • Wartime and safety
  • Maps and plans
  • International railways
  • Regional histories
  • Buses and trams
  • Canals and waterways
  • Cycling

There is a full set of Railway Magazine dating back to 1897. The library also has several bound volumes of railway union journals going back to the 1890s. There is a good geographical spread of branch line histories and some specialist books on the working and maintenance of railways and locomotives which were not produced for the general public. There are some timetables dating back to the 1920s. There is a wide selection of books on trams and narrow-gauge railways, as well as canal, cycling, bus and trolleybus material. The library welcomes donations on these and other aspects of transport.

One of our visitors on October 21st mooches through the collection

Links with others

We have had a couple of very useful discussions with staff at the National Railway Museum, including library and archive staff. We hope these links will develop further; we;ve already learned a lot from our discussions with ‘the experts’. If we are given archival material we will offer this to the NRM which has professional archivists with space to accommodate material.

Library staff with Tim Farron MP
Paul, Michael Davies and Tim Farron MP

They are keen to increase their ‘community rail’ deposits and we are looking at ways to help. We’ve also had discussions with friends in the railway industry – Northern, TransPennine Express and Network Rail have all expressed interest and support for what we’re doing. We are approaching other railway companies to look at how we can collaborate. We have excellent links with Community Rail Cumbria and the Furness Line Community Rail Partnership, and hope to build on those links in the coming months. There’s an article about the library in the new edition of the FLAG (Furness Line Action Group) newsletter, and copies are available in the library. A few weeks ago our local MP, Tim Farron, called in to see the library and was delighted with what he saw.

Book reviews

We hope to do regular book reviews of publications which are available in the library. Here’s one to start.

’Meet Me at Harold Wilson’ – Stories from St George’s Square. Compiled by Christine Ferguson and Beverley Norris for Huddersfield Local History Society (who published it).

This is such a great idea – a book of stories, recollections and some background history about Huddersfield’s iconic railway station and the magnificent St George’s Square which greets travellers arriving at the station. The fine statue of Harold Wilson, born and bred in Huddersfield, is the centrepiece of the square which was developed with the coming of the railway.

The square has been the scheme of countless rallies, demonstrations and mass gatherings over its many decades stretching back to the late 1840s. But it has also been the place where friends, lovers, colleagues, meet – hence the title. ‘Meet me at Harold Wilson’ is a phrase that most Huddersfield people will recognise.

Front cover of ‘Meet me at Harold Wilson’

The book includes chapters on ‘Politics and Protests’, ‘War and Peace’, ‘Patriotism and Loyalty, ‘Faith in the Square’, ‘Music and Dance’ and lots more. It’s a great collection of individual tales which help re-inforce the importance of the town’s station in Huddersfield’s history and culture. It’s very reasonably priced at £5. ISBN 978-0-9929841-6-8. It’s on sale in Huddersfield including the station newsagent on Platform 1, but copies can be ordered via local booksellers like Daisy Roots in Grange. There’s a reference copy in our Station Library.

Supporting the Station Library

The library is run on a totally voluntary basis but we need some (modest) funds to develop. Very soon we will be launching a ‘subscription’ offer which will be a way in which supporters – individual and corporate – can help us. We should stress that there is no intention to introduce charges for use of the library!

‘Subscribers’ will be invited to speak events, receive the newsletter and possibly get other benefits as we grow. However, it’s basically a way of helping the library cover its costs (website, heat and light, etc.).

As we keep stressing, you can help the library by donating unwanted books – anything transport-related, in the broadest possible sense, is welcome. If we haven’t got it – great. If we have, equally good, it will go into the ‘borrowing’ section. If we’ve even got a second copy, we will take it off your hands and add it to the ‘Sale’ items (if you’re happy with that) which are available to view when the library is open. All monies raised will go into supporting the library. We will have a bank account established (‘Kents Bank Station Library’) very shortly.

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2 responses to “Kents Bank Station Library News”

  1. John Owen avatar
    John Owen

    Hi Paul. Thanks for this and I would like to remain on the mailing list. Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the next 2 events but hope to visit on a future open day. I will forward this on to the local RCTS Branch whose members may be interested. If you have any flyers I could put them out at future meetings if you like. Finally I need to have a clear out of my railway books so would be happy to donate them. However they are mainly photographic collections and even some old “Locospotters” annuals from the late 50’s so may not have the depth of content for a library. Anuwau let me know and I could drop them off if of interest. Best wishes and good luck with the venture. John

    1. Paul Salveson avatar
      Paul Salveson

      Hi John, be good to see you when you get chance. As for the books, yes please! We have a section on ‘railway art’ whcih includes photographic collections. Also spotters’ annuals – it’s part of the story!
      best wishes, Paul

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