Publisher of the Month: Stenlake Publishing
Stenlake Publishing has evolved from Richard Stenlake Publishing, which began in 1987 with the publication of a modest booklet about the town of Motherwell. The company is an independent and privately owned commercial trade book publisher and specialises in illustrated local history, transport history and industrial history, with the occasional foray sideways into related non-illustrated areas. Stenlake's books on towns and villages as they used to be are simple and unpretentious and offer a selection of old photographs accompanied by a potted history of the place and informative captions. Although large conurbations such as Dundee and Greenock are featured in the Stenlake list, and tend to be in larger format books which have between 180 and 200 photographs, the company specialises in books on smaller towns and villages.
Sometimes sales of such titles bear no relationship to the resident population - like Old Muirkirk and Glenbuck. The Ayrshire town of Muirkirk, at one time host to a large ironworks, has a population of only about 2,000 and its neighbour, Glenbuck, is a lost village, albeit the one from which Bill Shankly came. Despite this, the book has gone through several reprints. Other recent "obscure" titles include Old Crianlarich, Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy and the tongue-twisting Old Oldmeldrum. Small print runs and the lack of alternative titles enable small books like this to be profitable.
Because of the localised nature of many Stenlake books, the company sells through a much wider range of outlets than the average trade publisher. The books can be found everywhere from the chain bookstores down to newsagents and corner shops – and, of course, BooksfromScotland.com. Coverage is not restricted to Scotland either. Besides town titles for Cumbria, the list of railway books spans the whole of the UK and the company has a growing list of transport and towns titles for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Recent commercial successes include Shropshire's Lost Railways, Old Dundalk, and Old South Uist.
Besides an ever-growing list of books on towns, villages and suburbs (over 300 titles in print) the company also produces several popular transport and industrial series including Lost Railways (which are featured by county or region) Wheels around... (road transport), Last days of Steam (pre-Beeching period photographs) and Last days of Colliery Steam (industrial locomotives again photographed in the autumn of their lives). Such specialist material is scrutinised minutely (to see if there are any mistakes!) by the readership and Stenlake are fortunate enough to have eminent experts writing for them, such as Guthrie Hutton (canals and mining), Robert Grieves (road transport), Cyril McIntyre (Irish road transport), and Tom Heavyside (industrial railways).
Every now and then the Stenlake departs from its staple bread-and-butter formats to produce something a little different. Guthrie Hutton's series of five titles on Scotland's mining industry broke new ground and was a commercial success also. The same author more recently compiled Coal Not Dole - Memories of the 1984/5 Miners' Strike, oral history for that bitter dispute. Twenty Years Down The Mines by Ian Terris is a warts-and-all personal account of the rigours of mining life (it was described to us by one reader as "a man's book"). A Privileged Boyhood by Alexander McRobbie is an uncomfortable narrative of the author's 1930s Glasgow childhood and his subsequent exploits. Borders Railway Rambles is a walking guide to the much-loved erstwhile railways of the Scottish Borders. Gordon Urquhart's Along Great Western Road is a stunning hardback illustrated history of Glasgow's West End and was a huge critical and commercial success. Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Co. is an erudite company history of the Keppie business in which Glasgow's most famous architect was once a partner.
Stenlake books work at different levels for different people, from those who just wish to flick through an reminisce over the old photographs therein to those wanting to look more into the local history of their town and most of the titles carry a list of recommended further reading for those who want to go deeper into the subject. Above all Stenlake books bring a lot of pleasure into many lives, but none of this perhaps makes sense perhaps until you see the title on your town or village.
- Add to BasketAlong Great Western Road: An Illustrated History Of Glasgow's West End - - Hardback
This text tells the facsinating story of the famed West End of Glasgow. The book includes more than 300 photographs and charts the architectural and social development of the West End from the earliest times to the present
- Add to BasketCharles Rennie Mackintosh And Co., 1854 To 2004 - - Hardback
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was the third partner of John Honeyman and Keppie, the architectural practice now called Keppie Design which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004.
- Add to BasketCoal Not Dole: Memories Of The 1984/85 Miners' Strike - - Paperback
In 1984, the National Coal Board announced a reduction in coal output that amounted to the loss of twenty pits and 20,000 jobs. The National Union of Mineworkers saw this as an attack on their members and called them out on strike. This is the story of that bitter, year-long dispute.
- Cumbria's Lost Railways - - Paperback
While the decline of Cumbria's rail network began long before Beeching, by the 1990s, it began a recovery with the reopening of many stations and the restoration of many freight services. However, this book recalls the huge network whch used to operate at a much more relaxed - and refined - pace.
- Lost Railways Of Dundalk And The North East: Including Railways Of Cos. Louth, West Meath, Monaghan, Navan, Cavan And Longford - - Paperback
This volume looks at facts, figures, dates of opening and closure and vital statistics of the lost railways of the counties in the north east of the Republic of Ireland.
- Old Crianlarich, Tyndrum And Bridge Of Orchy - - Paperback
This collection of photographs includes sleepy Edwardian views of Tyndrum and Crianlarich as they used to be and more recognisable views of the same places in the 1920s. Also included are pictures of the mine at Tyndrum and the west highland railway.
- Old Muirkirk And Glenbuck - - Paperback
Once a major industrial centre, Muirkirk's transformation to a small isolated town is illustrated with rare photographs of the pits, rows and shops that once thrived there. Nearby Glenbuck, even more isolated, suffered a similar industrial decline and is now a ghost village.
- Add to BasketOld South Uist - - Paperback
Bill Innes, originally a native of the island, presents a delightful collection of photographs of life as it was on South Uist and this is every bit a book about people as it is about place.
- Shropshire's Lost Railways - - Paperback
'Shropshire's Lost Railways' features dates, details and vital statistics of the closed passenger railways of Shropshire, accompanied by informative text.
- Add to BasketTwenty Years Down The Mines - - Paperback
A first hand account of the everyday work and woes in this now all but disappeared industry. Ian Terris' account of his working life will strike a chord with thousands of ex-miners and bring to life the day to day trials and tribulations of the mining industry.