Tuesday 19 April 1988

Smallbrook Farm, Warminster, 1905-1965 News


A book chronicling the history of a Warminster farm has been a complete sell out. Smallbrook Farm, by Warminster historian Danny Howell, was published on April 1, and all 400 copies have been sold, with 30 per cent of sales going to people outside the town.

The book told the tale of Bert Dowding and Beatrice Young, the last occupants of the farm, and is the fifth book on specific aspects of the town’s history, by Mr Howell, who is a member of the Warminster History Society.

About 70 per cent were bought by Warminster residents, with some copies going as far afield as Brixham, Stafford and Crawley. The majority were sold through mail order or through local shops and the Wiltshire Library And Museum Service. Copies also went to the British Museum and the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

“Of course I’m pleased with the sales of the book, but more than that I’m pleased with the contents,” said Mr Howell. “Researching local history is hard work. It’s sometimes frustrating, it’s time consuming and often lonely, but for all that it’s enjoyable. The fun is in the chase, as they say, and getting it all together is a craft I’ve come to master with experience.”

“But the nice thing about it is when readers go to the trouble of writing to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed the book. Knowing the public are pleased is the icing on the cake. The complimentary letters afterwards make it all worthwhile.”

The author’s interviews with Mr Dowding began in April 1986 and he realised very quickly that the farmer’s anecdotes would make a very good book. Mr Howell is not surprised that it has sold out.

“I think the success of the book is largely because the people, places and events portrayed are all within living memory of Warminster’s older population and the contents strike a chord with many readers.”

Mr Howell has carved a little niche for himself in the community and has built up a loyal following. He says he feels duty bound to continue with his research and admits to liking his tag as the ‘town’s historian.’

Mr Howell thinks that the history of Warminster will always be a good seller. “The people are proud and protective about their heritage,” he said.

The Wiltshire Times And News, Friday 13 May 1988.