Track star

PUBLISHED: 17:14 10 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 06 May 2010

Philip Howard with copies of his new book

Philip Howard with copies of his new book

ALL aboard for a new book about Hitchin railway station. Former firefighter Philip Howard s love of railway stations prompted him to write a book about the place where he worked for five years after leaving school aged 15, in 1965. Mr Howard, now aged 57,

ALL aboard for a new book about Hitchin railway station.

Former firefighter Philip Howard's love of railway stations prompted him to write a book about the place where he worked for five years after leaving school aged 15, in 1965.

Mr Howard, now aged 57, later followed a career in the fire service. But after spending 34 years fighting fires while being based at both the Baldock and Hitchin fire stations he decided to hang up his hose.

After following his love of all things railway he has now written Take The Train From Hitchin: A Journey Into Our Local Railway Heritage.

One of Mr Howard's earliest memories was being taken by his father to see steam trains going through Cadwell Crossing at Ickleford.

Seeing that other books covered less important railway lines he realised that other people would be fascinated like he was about the station, for example the land off St Michael's Road was once home to a vast engineers' yard with hundreds of sets of tracks, points and wagons.

Mr Howard, who lives in Shefford, said: "Hitchin was famous for its engineering yard and no one has ever mentioned it. It had its own steam shed and branch lines to Cambridge and Bedford."

Mr Howard's book will appeal to historians as well as railway fans and after beginning his research four years ago he has received invaluable help from wife Chris and daughter Julie, son-in-law Andrew and his son, also called Andrew.

He also appealed to members of Hitchin Historical Society and readers of The Comet for photographs of the station and has included many in his book that have never been published before.

Mr Howard said: "I really enjoyed doing the book. But it's my first and my last."

He launched his book on Saturday and signed copies at Hitchin Corn Exchange and Eric Moore's book shop.

This Saturday Mr Howard will be at Waterstones in Hitchin Market Place from 2pm until 4pm.

He will also be giving a talk at the first-ever North Hertfordshire Book Festival, to run for two weeks from World Book Day on March 1, 2007.

The book, which costs £9.95, has been published by Hitchin Historical Society.


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