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Belgrave and Birstall Remembered: how a local railway station was gained, lost and regained, by John Powdrill
The station was on the Great Central Railway, just to the north of Leicester. Opened in the 1890s and closed in 1963 this book is a wonderful collection of memories and photographs of a fairly insignificant station which nonetheless is part of our transport heritage which would otherwise have gone unrecorded. It is also the more recent story of the campaign by local groups to preserve and re-open the line, and the controversial demolition of the station and its replacement by Leicester North as the terminus for the Heritage line to Loughborough.
As dawn was breaking on April 10th 1992 I walked home from the Winchester count. A Conservative government had, rather unexpectedly, been re-elected. I looked out over the valley towards St. Catherine’s Hill, now scarred with a white gash into the chalk, and reflected bitterly that while governments come and go what was being done to this peerless bit of English landscape was forever.
This book tells the story of the campaign to stop the desecration – a tunnel would have cost little more and preserved much of the land of greatest ecological and landscape value (although that is to put the matter into Cost/Benefit terms which have no place in the ethos of this book.) It is a beautifully written narrative, into which are woven the recollections of the activists who placed their bodies in the way of the bulldozers. My only criticism is that the authors do not mention the history of militancy that already existed in Winchester from the attempt, fifteen years earlier, to build the motorway through the watermeadows.
For those who are interested and who have read this far I cannot do better than to quote Helen’s concluding paragraphs: “…what happened at Twyford was, arguably more than any other recent protest in the British Isles, not just for the land, but also of it. The events of 1992 and 1993 were almost unique amongst the road protests of the 1990s: not only did we still have our innocence and believe we could win, but a vital element was just being on the land, living with its rhythms and celebrating the place. The land cast a spell with its beauty, history and peace, with what seemed like the impossibility of losing it and the grief that followed.
Twyford Down became a byword for environmental protest, for the strength of the connection that can be forged between people and place. I have been to meetings and gatherings since where I hear people tell others of what happened on Twyford Down, even though they have only read of it, or heard tell. It seems presumptuous in those moments to step in and say, “I was there” and stake a claim on a legend.
Yes, Twyford Down richly deserves to be part of the legends of these Islands, for it is a lost land now, which once was filled with beauty and hope. Speaking the name alone should be a remembrance of why people speak up for wild places; why they find the courage and passion to take direct action.
This book is just part of the story, told in the words of just some of those who played a part in the tale and in the pictures or leaflets they made. Others will tell different stories, relate their part in the legend. Maybe Twyford Down is a story that will never end, for there will be more gatherings there, the name and the protests will continue to be evoked.
Admiral, Diplomat, Scapegoat
The life story of one of Queen Anne’s favourite Admirals, his rapid rise through the ranks and his almost as rapid fall from grace.
£8.00 plus post and packing
A True Victorian Company
The story of the founder and family behind Victorian Britain’s foremost builders, based in Southampton, but building all of the country and abroad.
£10.00 plus post and packing
Railway Buildings of Joseph Bull And Sons, Builders of Southampton
A more targeted book looking at this companies influence on building the railway infrastructure across the south and west of England
£4.00 plus post and packing
Hampshire and the Telephone
A look at how Hampshire has played a key role in the development of the Telephone and associated network technology
£3.00 plus post and packing
Archaeology of Communications
Communication often leaves no lasting imprint on the environment, however, with the growth of technology, this has changed, this is a brief introduction to the subject.
£3.00 plus post and packing
All these books are being distributed by Stephen Old and orders can be placed via email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Written in 2015, ‘The Mottisfont Chronicle; Arrival’ is the disturbingly prescient story of schoolteacher Gerry Morris’s struggle to protect his family during the outbreak of a deadly virus.
As the veneer of civilisation is eroded by a disease from which only one person in a thousand survives, humanity faces catastrophe.
Rejecting the choice of staying in an increasingly savage London, lifelong city-dweller Gerry joins a group of survivors determined to escape.
But escape to where?
And since the technological infrastructure on which modern life depends has ceased … escape to what sort of life?
‘The Mottisfont Chronicle: Arrival’ is the first novel in a trilogy.
Obtainable from email@example.com
Price: £8.99 plus P & P.
Four Marks author Chris Heal normally writes international thrillers and serious histories. However, as a 100th birthday present for his mother, he agreed to an unusual anniversary request – a book of twenty local murders, each story carefully researched and documented. The twenty-first chapter takes a detailed and revelatory look at the history of Four Marks. Heal is 73 years old and holds a recent doctorate from Bristol University. ‘I don’t hold a magic magnet for this sort of information,’ he explained, ‘but you will understand that once you start asking, once you start looking, then people start talking and the records start sharing. Odd facts jump out from unrelated pages and take new meanings. People brood for a month or two, then make contact. Some of the information is funny, some a wind-up quickly disproved, but a lot of the stories are plain scary. Collecting murders is like rolling a snowball: the more you ask, the more you get.’
How to get hold of it
- Buyers with connections local to Four Marks who arrange a delivery address in the GU34 1, 3, 4, 5 and SO24 0, 9 postcodes, visit https://www.fourmarksmurders.candspublishing.org.uk/, order online by PayPal or credit or debit card, and receive free doorstep delivery with ten days.
- Buyers with national and international orders, visit your favourite major bookstore or online booksellers like Waterstone’s and Amazon.
- £12.99. Printed by Sarsen Press, Winchester.
- RRP is £15.99 plus any p&p. Printed on demand by Lightning Source.
- Paperback, 330 pages, 60 b&w illustrations, 18 maps (eight new), charts, appendices, timeline, further reading, chapter endnotes.
- ISBN: 978-1-9161944-2-7
Published in aid of Winchester Hospice – Summer 2020
Sam Gavins is a professional wedding photographer. The lockdown meant the cancellation of all her bookings for months ahead so instead she decided to record the effects of the pandemic on a cross section of Winchester’s residents in words and photographs, and to publish them in a book to raise money for the Winchester Hospice which is currently being built.
This beautiful book, which Sarsen Press helped her to produce, is the result of her work. None of us have ever lived through a time like this before, and whatever our experience was of lockdown we probably all hope that it never happens again. In Sam’s photographs, and the words of the people she has pictured, is the tragedy, the boredom, the frustration, the creativity, the freedom – the whole diversity of individual and family responses to an unprecedented crisis.
We don’t know how these past months will change our lives, and the way our city, our country and our world might function in the future, but change there will be, and this book will be a valuable historical record of what life was like in one town during those critical months when nothing seemed secure or certain any more.
If you would like to purchase a copy of the book please message Sam via www.samgavinsphotography.com
The Original Heidelburg letterpress machine that we ran in the 1980’s was a Platten which used raised metal lettering to make the print from. The pages would be laid out by hand from thousands of tiny metal lettering pieces. We used this system alongside our lithographic presses, until the late 1980s.
A platten had a flat chase (the rectangular metal holder that the type fits into), ours was 10×15 inches – foolscap not A3. The chase has to be filled up, so along with all the letters and lead spacers ( that go between rows of letters) wooden ‘furniture’ blocks were needed to pack out the chase ready to ink up.
We also used the platten to cut out bespoke shapes, with rubber and blade forms made to specification for us by Diamond Cutting Forms, a company in Chandlers Ford, that still operates.
Bob Stone was the compositor and operator.
Tony Hill reviews “Sweet Thames Run Softly” by Robert Gibbings
One of the advantages of charity and bookshops being closed is that I am having to choose books from my shelves to read, so I’ve just finished “Sweet Thames Run Softly” by Robert Gibbings which was published in 1940 and very successful at the time. Gibbings was a very important figure in the revival of illustration from wood engravings (as well as fine printing in general – he ran the Golden Cockerel Press for some years), and this book is illustrated with his typically bold pictures. Unlike “Coming down the Seine”, which I read last year and was a narrative of a single journey, this book is more of a discursive ramble through his long-term association with the upper reaches of the Thames, and includes many observations on the wildlife, encounters with rustics with funny accents, a couple of mildly erotic incidents with young women, and much simple but beautiful description of the river and its surrounds. Today’s nature and travel writing tends to be of higher quality, but I can see how this would have been perfect for a period where the very existence of England was under threat.
My copy has the bookplate of Gerald Finzi, an English composer who lived at Ashmansworth and whose reputation has grown in recent years. The bookplate is by Reynolds Stone, another important British wood engraver who designed a number of commemorative stamps after the war. Finzi’s son, Christopher (‘Kiffe’) was married to Jacqueline du Pre’s sister who wrote a much criticised book about Jacqueline which I’ve got but have never read. It was also filmed. I bought two van loads of books last year from a dealer who had purchased the contents of the farmhouse when the Finzis moved out, not long before Kiffe’s death last November. In the 1970s I ran a market stall on Saturdays and opposite me was a health food stall run by Kiffe Finzi so I got to know him vaguely. He was very much the Alpha Male, and he ran the farmhouse at Ashmansworth as some sort of commune at that time. Jenny, the wife of the friend I ran the bookstall with, often used to come and spend the day at the market too, and to my astonishment (and a great deal of anguish at the time) we ended up in a relationship that has endured, fairly tempestuously, for over 40 years. Jenny grew up in Reading, and much of her immediate family came from the upper reaches of the Thames. One of her great aunts was a lock keeper at Marsh Lock near Henley-on-Thames and her mother used to help her aunt on summer weekends at the tea room her aunt ran next to the lock.
So this book is not exactly an association copy, as the book trade vernacular has it, but it is certainly a book with associations!
Tony Hill is the proprietor of Sarsen Press and has had a lifelong fascination with books. He began selling second hand books at Winchester market in 1975 and a year later co-founded the Winchester Book Fair, believed to be the longest running Fair in the UK. He has accumulated a wide ranging collection, some of which can be found on sale at the Hyde Street office.
On moving to Winchester in 1976, I soon started putting on gigs in local venues, for which I needed posters. Several people recommended Sarsen Press, who catered for the printing needs of organisations in the Winchester area. I immediately felt at home with the slightly “alternative” feel of Sarsen, which belied the supreme professionalism of their work. Years later, I started a small educational publishing company, which specialised in laminated cards. Over the years, Sarsen Press produced thousands of these for me, often designing them in-house as well. At one stage, over 80 percent of UK secondary schools were using these materials, and I was spending my entire life collecting, collating and mailing them. Tony Hill, Sarsen’s proprietor, once told me I was their biggest customer, which gave me a warm glow. When I finally felt the need to write a music memoir. Sarsen Press again did the design and production, and that has led to a series of further books, which we have done as long runs, short runs or the very convenient “print on demand”. I have remained friends with all the loyal staff there and yes, I do still use Sarsen Press for my gig posters!
Books published by Sarsen Press:
Access One Step
Banjo On My Knee
Polly In My Pocket
It was only in the late 1960s that the Liberal Party started to campaign across the country using the colour orange. Prior to that the colour used locally tended to depend on the political history of the area and could be green, blue, red, yellow or orange. Dayglo orange is actually quite red, so the party tried to standardize on “Blaze” which is a bit more orange. The new wave of activists who joined the party in the late sixties and early seventies, many of whom were campaigning for the first time in decades in the major cities, favoured arc chrome rather than blaze which they saw as being too close to Labour Party red. The now ubiquitous diamond shaped poster measuring 10″ x 10″, because dayglo came in double crown sheets (20″ x 30″) and so cut six out of a sheet with no wasteage began to gain a foothold at that time too.
When the SDP emerged on the scene in 1981 they decided that their posters had to be different from the Liberal Partyʼs, and so they got Slater Harrison to produce a new colour of dayglo called “Amber Soleil”, which was a sort of mustard yellow and looked very half-heartedly fluorescent. For years after the merger of the Liberal Party and the SDP some diehards used to ask us for samples of non-fluorescent paper in an attempt to emulate amber soleil, which was not added to Slater Harrisonʼs dayglo range.
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