A piece of railway history is “back where it belongs” at Kents Bank Station in Cumbria, which now also boasts a new library dedicated to railways and transport.
More than 60 guests travelled to Kents Bank, which sits on the Furness Line, on January 19 to see the original British Railways ‘totem’ sign for Kents Bank unveiled on the side of the station house.
The sign was rescued at auction by friends and supporters of the Kents Bank Station Library, which also enjoyed its official opening on the day.
The sign was unveiled by the chair of Network Rail Lord Hendy and the mayor of Grange-over-Sands Councillor Roger Handley, and it was Lord Hendy who initially alerted Paul Salveson, one of the Kents Bank Station Library trustees, to its availability having seen it in an auction catalogue.
The library group ran a crowdfunding campaign and raised just over £2,000, which was enough to cover the purchase of the sign and a small surplus to put towards developing the library.
Speaking at the unveiling, Lord Hendy said: “It is great to see the sign is back where it belongs. It is also great that the library is going to be run by people who care about the railway and its history.”
Lord Hendy also told attendees that the point of the railway is ‘connectivity’, and ‘without it, communities don’t feel connected to the rest of the world.’
A further ceremony took place in the library itself, where a plaque was unveiled to mark its official opening. Paul, and fellow trustees John Kitchen and Linda Nuttall, welcomed the guests, which included friends from Community Rail Network, Northern, Network Rail, British Transport Police, Railway Heritage Trust, Westmorland and Furness Council, Friends of Kents Bank Station and Foreshore, Furness Line Action Group (FLAG), Cumbrian Railway Association, National Railway Museum, local residents, and many other rail groups.
The emphasis of the library is on the social history of railways, with the stock based on Paul’s extensive collection of material. It is primarily for reference, with some of the 3,000 plus books scarce and often only available in specialist collections such as the National Railway Museum, but the library is also developing a lending section that people can use free of charge.
The trustees of the library are in the process of becoming a legally constituted not-for-profit body that will own the stock, and Kents Bank Station Library is set to become a member of Community Rail Network in its own right.
Paul, who is manager of the library, said of the opening: “It was a day to remember.
“Really what we’re trying to do with the library is to have a resource that is available to local people, as well as specialist enquiries.
“We’ve got some more events planned in the future including a monthly series of talks – next is ‘Railways in the Lake District’ by historian Martin Bairstow on Wednesday February 14th at 14.00. The next library open day is on Saturday February 10th from 11.00 to 16.00.”
For more details on the Kents Bank Station Library, go to www.stationlibrary.org.uk