Civic honours for Bath rail writer

Radstock Museum
Radstock Museum

A successful local author has unveiled his 96th book with a launch event at Radstock Museum supported by the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Around 60 rail enthusiasts joined Bath-based Colin Maggs MBE – regarded as Britain’s most prolific railway and tramway author – to celebrate the launch of his latest book on the Bristol-Radstock-Frome railway line. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Colin’s first railway book, on the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway, in 1963.

This was the first-ever Bath & North East Somerset Council Reception to be held outside Bath, other than those connected to annual civic church services.

Councillor Neil Butters, Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Colin Maggs MBE is Britain’s most prolific railway author, with an astonishing 96 books published – and three more in the pipeline!  As a railwayman myself, it was an honour to welcome him – along with the scores of railway enthusiasts who also enjoyed a most entertaining evening.”

Cllr Butters retired from a railway career spanning 47 years at the end of March.  For the past 15 years, he had served as Secretary to the Railway Heritage Committee which, until recently, was the national statutory body responsible for ensuring the long-term preservation of significant railway records and artefacts.

Colin Maggs, who is believed to be the only railway author to be honoured with an award from the Queen, said: “I was delighted and most grateful that Bath & North East Somerset Council supported this event. It was fitting to have the official launch here given that the bulk of the line ran within the present Council’s area, between Whitchurch and south of Radstock. Apart from coal, the line served several other industries – including quarrying, printing, and the manufacture of greenhouses.”

The whole of the Bristol-Radstock-Frome line was closed to passengers in 1959 but rail continued to serve Kilmersdon Colliery – the last pit in the Radstock coalfield – up until the colliery’s closure in 1973. The final demise of the railway south of Radstock came in 1988 with the closure of Marcroft’s wagon works.