Overdue Basingstoke library books returned after 48 years

Returned library bookImage source, Hampshire County Council

Two children's books have been returned to a library in Hampshire 48 years after being taken out.

The Thomas the Tank Engine and Learning in Colour books were returned to the library at Basingstoke Discovery Centre by post.

A note, signed "Andy", apologised for keeping the books "when we moved as children from Basingstoke in 1972".

Hampshire County Council said it was a "thoughtful gesture" and it would not be charging any late return fees.

Learning With Colour Architecture: The Great Art of Building by Trewin Copplestone, and The Railway Series No. 22: Small Railway Engines (Classic Thomas the Tank Engine) by Rev. W. Awdry were returned to the library in a Royal Mail parcel last month.

Image source, Hampshire County Council
Image caption,
An accompanying note apologised for the late return

The accompanying note said: "We inadvertently took these books when we moved as children from Basingstoke in 1972.

"Please accept my apologies for the late return of these items."

Executive member for recreation and heritage, Seán Woodward, said the council was "very pleased" to have the books back.

"As we don't have contact details for Andy, we haven't been able to thank him directly but we hope he knows how much we appreciate his thoughtful gesture and how much joy it has brought to our staff and library customers."

At today's rate, the books would have accumulated a late return charge of about £8,000.

Fines for overdue library books have been frozen in since April due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the authority has urged people to return any books they had kept during the lockdown.

Eight libraries in Hampshire are set to close and opening hours reduced in those remaining, as part of savings measures approved in July.