OAKWOOD PRESS CELEBRATES 80
YEARS OF PUBLISHING
school friends Michael Robbins and Roger Kidner who shared the same
interest in transport produced the first type written issue of LOCOMOTION
(often called the 4 O's) Editorial in the first edition states; This is an
entirely new venture and is including articles of general interest as well
as those concerning the Permanent Wayfarers, we hope that those prevented
from joining the Society will support LOCOMOTION the only fee is 6d
Robbins was Editor until June 1933 by September Roger Kidner had taken
over and Michael is listed as President of Committee. Roger continued to
type and duplicate the magazine in his garage until the Silver Jubilee
Review in June 1935 when it was produced by a commercial printer.
it had been decided to expand into book publishing, at that time there had
only been a handful of railway books published and the market was unknown.
The first title chosen was the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway by the late
L. T .Catchpole. This railway had closed in Autumn 1935 and the book was
timely released by March 1936. Only 250 copies were printed as no great
demand was expected, however a reprint was needed by May of the same year,
and the book has been reprinted numerous times since. The next titles to
emerge from Oakwood were The North London Railway by M.Robbins, TaffVale
Railway by the late D.S.M.Barrie, and Hull and Barnsley Railway by the
late Dr G D Parkes, plus the very informative eight parts of the Light
Railway handbook by Roger Kidner. Then came the war.
was on hold during World War II after both Kidner and Robbins "joined up",
the former was a private in the Royal West Kents, later being commissioned
in the Essex Regiment ending the war as a Major in the Royal Artillery
with 21 Army Group.
paper rationing was strict and the allocation for the Oakwood Press
extremely small, however a few new titles and reprints were released in
1946. It was decided not to restart the magazine, but to convert it to
occasional small books of subjects not covered elsewhere, called
'Locomotion Papers' (LP's). The first was by the well known railway
historian George Dow, The Alford and Sutton Tramway. The Oakwood Library
of Railway History series, known as (OL's) restarted again in early 1947
with the Maryport and Carlisle Railway by Jack Simmons. Several more were
produced until Michael Robbins (on taking up a position with London
Transport) was required to relinquish editorship of the series, which for
the next 35 years was edited by Roger Kidner. By the time advancing age
made a transfer to younger hands necessary, 65 'Oakwood Library' railway
histories, 153 Locomotion Papers, and well over 100 other titles had been
published. The latter included the series of large and detailed books on
Welsh narrow gauge railways by J.I.C.Boyd, the first of which was
published in 1949 and can be said to have begun the practice of publishing
really deeply researched works into the history and equipment of the
smaller railways and companies.
carried on and by 1972 he had given up his 'day job' at Benn Bros working
in public relations, to concentrate on Oakwood with his wife Beryl helping
70's Oxford Publishing Company (OPC) had decided to open a transport
bookshop in Oxford and it was at this time that Roger and Jane Kennedy
became firm friends with Jane loving the branch line histories which Roger
produced, so it was really no surprise in 1984 when Roger announced his
retirement that Jane bought the company and carried on the A5 size and the
now familiar 'number plate' style covers.
intervening 26 years the company has produced 397 titles and to celebrate
the 80 years of publishing Oakwood are planning to produce a book listing
every title plus reprints and new editions.
of the prolific output of new titles by Oakwood, people are often
surprised by the size of the company, it remains very much a family
concern. With six out of seven employees being family members. Both Roger
and Jane have been extremely fortunate in that authors became friends and
over the years remained loyal to the company, this also includes customers
who buy every book published.
We thank you all!