Author launches new book about Malmesbury Railway

By Nick Batten on 5 December, 2022

Former headteacher Mike Fenton is returning to Malmesbury this week (Wednesday 7th December) to launch a book that has been more than 30 years in the writing. 

Mike (74) is launching ‘A Malmesbury Railway Companion – a compendium of stories & delights relating to the Malmesbury railway’ at the Athelstan Museum’s Rausing Building on 7th December from 7pm. 

The book has been a labour of love for Mike, who wrote his first book about the railway line in the 1970s when he was first married and worked in the area. A family member had a fascination with the line – which Mike picked up on. 

He wrote a short booklet about the railway’s history, “The Malmesbury Railway’ and then updated it years later after being approached by the publisher Wild Swan Publications in 1990 who liked the original book yet felt it could be better. The second book was called ‘The Malmesbury Branch.’ 

Mike said, “After that book, I found it stimulated new areas of investigation and other topics deserving further examination, with many more interviews with folk who worked on the line and people who used it and it includes almost 200 previously unpublished photographs.

“I’m very grateful to the Athelstan Museum for supporting me and offering my book for sale in their shop.”

Susan Mockler, Vice Chair of the Museum Council said, We are excited about having Mike launch his book at the Rausing Building which is part of the Athelstan Museum. 

“Mike’s research is exemplary and adds to the knowledge of the time when Malmesbury had a railway. There will also be an exhibition in the museum from December celebrating the Malmesbury Branch Railway, which Mike has helped curate. 

“This is a subject that deserves more exposure as the railway was an important part of the town. We look forward to welcoming anyone interested in railways to this event.”

Mike will be sharing many of the book’s stories on 7th December and he will also be joined by David Titchener who was a fireman on freight trains running from Swindon. The goods train came in once a day for 11 years and David was on that run regularly for three of those years. 

Mike is now married to Rachel and the couple live in Herefordshire and are looking forward to returning to Wiltshire to celebrate the book launch. Illustrated by Adrian Knowles, who lives in Sutton Benger, the hardback book contains stories and old photographs and will be on sale in the Athelstan Museum for £35. 

Tickets for Mike’s talk are £10 and can be booked online – https://www.athelstanmuseum.org.uk/event/a-malmesbury-railway-companion/

Pictured above:  Mike Fenton, the author, with his book which will be officially launched at the Athelstan Museum’s Rausing building this Wednesday