Follow Folly Books on facebook




New title for Autumn 2023





Lives of the Somerset Miners


D.P. Lindegaard

The coal industry in Somerset has a rich and ancient legacy. Due to the county having a pleasant and mainly rural aspect, the contribution of its collieries to its economic and social history is not widely appreciated. There are insightful economic and technical accounts of the coal mining industry and the operation of the mines of Somerset, but these provide few details of the lives of the men who toiled underground. If one, or several of these, are identified at all, it is usually because of an accident when they have been killed or badly injured in the pit. The author saw this as a wrong which needed to be righted and it was her starting point. In the event the book uncovers many colourful additions in the doings above ground, and includes the lives and roles of women in the coal mining districts who were, as a general rule, even more forgotten than the men. The central core of the book is an alphabetical list of those men who died in accidents in the pits, often illustrated by contemporary (often gruesome) newspaper accounts or reports of coroners enquiries - starting with Carter Atkins ('Killed at Britton cole-pit' and buried at Paulton on 26th October 1778), and ending with William Young, aged 55, who 'was killed at Vobster Quarry whilst breaking stone when a large rock smashed his skull. He was the sexton of Vobster Church and greatly respected'..... Click here to read more ...










Nick McCamley

This book was written to provide a comprehensive overview of the quite incredible subterranean world that lies beneath Corsham and the surrounding areas. A number of specialist books have been published over the previous decade or so by Folly Books, recording in words and pictures the detailed history of Corsham's underground infrastructure, including Derek Hawkins' Bath Stone Quarries, Nick Catford's Burlington and the current author's Secret Underground Cities and Second World War Secret Bunkers. This book, however, brings all of these previous tomes together into a single, easily digestible volume which, I hope, will be of interest to those readers who don't need to know all the financial intricacies of the Victorian quarrying companies, the engineering and geological difficulties encountered and overcome during the adaptation of many of the quarries for ammunition storage (and other purposes) during the Second World War, or the geo-political shenanigans and rampant paranoia that led to the construction of the Burlington bunker. What we have here is a good, overall history, profusely illustrated, of all the major features and developments of the Corsham quarries from the 1830s to the present day. Over the years many myths and urban legends have circulated regarding what exactly went on beneath Corsham - here the reader will discover that many of those legends were closer to the truth than they ever imagined..... Click here to read more ...








Henry Davey


This 60-page booklet, including 16 pages of plates, is a reprint of the excerpt from the minutes of the proceedings of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, first published in October 1903. This edition was commissioned by Steve Grudgings and issued, with the permission of the Institute, in conjunction with the Second International Early Engines Conference, held at the Black Country Living Museum 8-10 October 2021. Published in the Proceedings of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Davey provided the first cohesive account of the development of the Newcomen engine and, while additional detail has been published subsequently, his work remains relevant and useful today. Davey recognised that he was not the exclusive expert on the subject and astutely sought the inputs of others on particular engines and these were written by individuals, the names of whom will be familiar to industrial archaeologists and historians.Click here to read more ...



New titles for Spring 2020






of Bristol



Edited by

Steve Grudgings



This remarkable volume is an exact facimile of the hand-written Order Book of Messrs Rogers & Company, a very early firm of boilermakers based in Bristol, who manufactured boilers and other plant for numerous West Country firms during the early and mid years of the Industrial Revolution. Amongst their customers were numerous colllieries, both large and small (some now virtually unknown) in the Bristol and North Somerset coalfield, as well as dozens of other industrial and transport concerns, including the Grand Western Canal, for whom they manufactured the huge water buckets used to power the Wellisford inclined plane.Click here to read more ...


New titles for Summer 2019

The Last Years of
Coal Mining in
South Wales

Volume Two: From Aberdare to Pembrokeshire

by Steve Grudgings


From the author: I count myself extremely fortunate not only to have witnessed and photographed the last few years of coal mining in South Wales but also to work with a publisher with the expertise and empathy to transform my raw material into what we both hope is a quality product. The process of producing this book has been a most enjoyable exercise, allowing me to indulge my memories and recollections of many visits to South Wales. These visits continue and there are a few of us who continue to seek out the increasingly derelict and overgrown remains of this once dominant industry. If you had not experienced it first hand, it’s difficult to understand how much influence the coal industry had on the welsh valleys in visual, economic, social and environmental terms. The coal industry in general and in South Wales in particular was both dependent upon and the instigator of a series of linked communities. The obvious communities were the physical ones of housing, shops, clubs and pubs around the pits, less obvious were the economic ones linking suppliers and customers of the industry......Click here to read more ...



Notes On An Old Colliery Pumping Engine (1791)

by William Thomson Anderson

Edited by Steve Grudgings


This is a reprint of William Anderson’s treatise, published in 1917, on the 1791 Pentrich Newcomen engine. The idea of re-publishing the manuscript sprang from ongoing archaeological research by the South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group into the slightly larger but very similar engine at Serridge, also built in 1791. Research at the Science Museum in Kensington threw up much interesting material, including most of the original prints of W.T Anderson’s photographs that featured in his 1917 paper. Further work by Steve Grudgings, in association with Cliff Williams, who derived much information from the Chatsworth House archives, revealed that some of Anderson’s initial findings were incorrect and that, in fact, the engine had started life at Pentrich, moved to Staveley Lower Ground Pit in 1819 and returned to Pentrich around 1840, rather than, as Anderson had surmised, having been installed first at Oakerthorpe Colliery and subsequently moved to Pentrich. Click here to read more...

The Last Years of
Coal Mining in
South Wales

Volume One: From the Eastern Valleys to Aberdare

by Steve Grudgings


For those of us born in the 1950s, the South Wales valleys conjure up images of colliery headgear, spoil heaps and coal trains. In reality however this is an anachronism and few such features survive in the modern valleys. The surface structures have been swept away and the underground workings are flooded and collapsed. In many ways much of South Wales really was ‘built on coal’ and the photographs in this book record most aspects of the valley pits. The images are, with few exceptions, ‘historic’ for all traces of the past which they record have gone.....Click here to read more ...



Avoncliff: The Secret History of an Industrial Hamlet in War and Peace

by Nick McCamley

Avoncliff is a Wiltshire hamlet situated at a narrow point along the valley of the Bristol Avon between Bradford-on-Avon and Bath. It has no church, chapel or school although it does boast an ancient pub and a railway halt; it also lies on the course of the Kennet & Avon Canal which crosses the Avon here by a monumental acqueduct.

What Avoncliff possesses in abundance is evidence of a long and varied industrial past. In the author's own words: 'The Avon has swept along the industrial detritus of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from the whole of England and deposited key elements of each upon its banks'..... Click here to read more ...


New titles for Spring 2017

Jane Austen - The Life and Times of the Woman behind the Books

by Diana White

Jane Austen lived when basic freedoms were denied her which she deeply resented. Diana White shows how Austen, in the subservient position of a younger daughter, was torn between her emancipated views of women's capabilities and her own, generally snobbish, preference for correct behaviour. Her novels were written both for those who would appreciate the romance but wouldn't understand the subtext, and those who would! Her daily life, with the difficulties of sanitation and the lack of modern conveniences are vividly illustrated. Click here to read more ...


Fuelling the War Pluto and the Secret Pipeline Network

by Tim Whittle

Unknown to many, a network of petroleum pipelines transport fuel from refineries and terminals to major airports, airfields, and distribution depots.  The largest of these pipeline networks has its origins as far back as the Second World War and is one of the few remnants, still operational, of the vast infrastructure that was built to fight that war. Click here to read more ...


New titles for Autumn 2015

The Last Years of
Coal Mining in
A Pictorial Record

by Steve Grudgings

As time passes, our understanding of the scale and importance of the UK’s coal industry fades. In the 1950s and 60s, most homes had coal fires, and electricity and gas were both produced from coal. In our grandparents’ childhood, more than a million men were directly employed in the industry and UK coal exports powered much of the world’s railway and shipping fleets as well as our own massive industrial base. ...Click here to read more ...


A Pictorial Record
Royal Naval Cordite Factory
Holton Heath

by Malcolm Bowditch and Les Hayward

During the first few weeks of the First World War, Winston Churchill − then First Lord of the Admiralty − insisted on the need for the Royal Navy to have its own independent supply of propellant (cordite) for shells.
Realising that the propellant manufactured for use in fighting at sea had to be of a very high quality, with a greater uniformity of ballistics than was necessary in propellants made for use on land, it was decided that the
production of such high grade cordite could be best achieved by a specialist factory designed specifically for this purpose. ... Click here to read more ...


New titles for Spring 2015

The Fauld Disaster - 27 November 1944

by Nick McCamley

On the morning of Monday 27th November 1944 an enormous
explosion rocked the Staffordshire countryside. Near the village of
Fauld a whole hilltop, an estimated two million tons of rock and
debris, was blasted two thousand feet into the air leaving a crater
a quarter of a mile in diameter and one hundred feet in depth.
Deep below the surface some 4,000 tons of bombs stored in the
RAF’s largest underground ammunition depot had exploded
en-masse, destroying much of the depot, devastating the local
landscape and claiming seventy lives. It is the definitive history of
the RAF’s ill-fated excursion into underground storage during the
Second World War, culminating in the disaster at Fauld ... Click here to read more ...



New titles for Autumn 2014


Stone to Build London - Portland's Legacy

by Gill Hackman

The characteristic white gleam of the Portland stone used to construct many of London's most iconic buildings impresses both visitors to the Capital and those who live and work there. Some know vaguely that the stone comes from a rugged bleak and quirkey island projecting into the English Channel from the coast of Dorset, but few know anything of the colourful history of Portland and its quarrymen, or of the industry that brought stone from the island to build the city. That is the fascinating and intricate story that this book unravels ... Click here to read more ...



New titles for Spring 2014




Secret Underground Cities

by Nick McCamley

Secret Underground Cities is the history of the series of vast underground arsenals, factories and control bunkers built by the British government during the Second World War, and of the new uses found for many of these subterranean cities as nuclear shelters and command centres during the period of post-war, Cold War paranoia. After an introduction explaining the inter-war military, economic and political factors that influenced the government's policy on underground protection, the book goes on to describe in detail the construction and operation of all the major sites including ... Click here to read more ...


New title for Winter 2013/14

Defending Anglesey

by Mark Dalton

The coastline and beaches of Anglesey draw thousands of tourists to the Island every year, but most will be unaware that this same coastline was patrolled by fragile royal Naval Airships almost 100 years ago looking for First World War U-boats, or that the beaches were once potential landing sites for a German invasion ion 1940. Click here to read more ...



Autumn 2012 titles

Burlington: The Central Government War Headquarters at Corsham

by Nick Catford


For fifty years the bunker now known as 'Burlington' was the most secret place in Britain. In the early 1950s it was felt that an alternative seat of government should be available in case London become untenable in the event of a nuclear war. Click here to read more ...


Secret Underground London

by Nick Catford

'Secret Underground London' is a comprehensive photographic record of a hidden world which lies beneath the capital but which is not generally seen by the public.
Included in this book is a miscellany of sites, from the disused tube stations and closed sections of the London underground railway system to the military bunkers, sandstone quarries and many more. Click here to read more ...


Autumn 2011 tiles

The Royal Observer Corps Underground Monitoring Posts

by Mark Dalton

The Royal Observers Corps was the volunteer organisation that watched the skies of Britain during the dark days of Second World War, reporting and tracking enemy aircraft and helping to win the Battle of Britain. What happened after the end of that conflict is less well known, with the Corps becoming the front line in a new kind of war; the Cold War. Click here to read more ...


Bath & Corsham Stone Quarries

by Derek Hawkins


The first volume in the Subterranean Britain series, the second and third volumes being Second World War Secret Bunkers and Cold War Bunkers. This book covers the history of the Bath and Corsham stone quarries up to the start of the Second World War and it continues the story through the post-war period to the present day. Click here to read more ...


Autumn 2010 titles

Second World War Secret Bunkers

by Nick McCamley

Second World War Secret Bunkers is the second volume in a series of high-quality photographic records of Britain’s underground heritage, covering the wide range of underground structures built during and in preparation for the Second World War. Locations within the scope of this book include the vast network of underground ammunition depots, underground factories and subterranean repositories for Britain's national art treasures in north Wiltshire, along with other sites throughout Britain. Click here to read more ...


Cold War Bunkers

by Nick Catford

Cold War Bunkers is a comprehensive photographic overview of all the underground, semi-underground and surface-built cold-war atomic and nuclear bunkers built in the British Isles to protect central, regional and local government, military organisations, the Civil Defence organisation, the Royal Observer Corps, UKWMO and the public utilities against nuclear attack by the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1989. Click here to read more ...


Spring 2010 titles

Our two new titles for Spring 2010 describe the consequences of the bombing of the City of Bath in April 1942 from two different viewpoints and each complements the other perfectly. Niall Rothnie’s The Bombing of Bath tells the story from the point of view of the victims of the bombing, of their human and material loses and the fear of repeated attack that led thousands of the city’s residents to seek nightly refuge in the surrounding countryside and villages. On the other hand, Fay Inchfawn’s Salute To The Village tells of the impact of evacuees, not just from Bath but also from London and the industrial cities, on a small rural village.


Salute to the Village

Fay Inchfawn

Salute To The Village is a lost masterpiece by one of Britain’s most famous women authors of the inter-war years and we are proud to have the opportunity to re-publish it. Fay Inchfawn wrote the book in the summer of 1943 while living in the village of Freshford and it is a faithful account of events that unfolded there during the early and most traumatic years of the Second World War. Click here to read more ...


The Bombing of Bath

Niall Rothnie

When Niall Rothnie’s The Bombing of Bath was first published in 1983 it set a new standard for this type of work. Its precision and depth of research make it a history that will probably never be surpassed. This 2010 Folly Books edition includes a new introduction and epilogue along with 32 pages of archive photographs. Click here to read more…