Wheathampstead author’s dung book should cause a real stink

ELEPHANT dung, kart racing and the discovery of Roman treasure are all at the centre of a new book about a Wheathampstead boy, written by a local author and released this Saturday.

The Great Wheathampstead Elephant Dung Disaster and Other Stories by Howard Wright, takes children on a fun-filled journey while educating them in the varied and fascinating history of the village.

Focusing on 10-year-old Tom and his many adventures, the book reveals some interesting facts about the village’s history.

The title story reveals that Wheathampstead used to be one of the country’s top growing areas for tomatoes and cucumbers and elephant dung used to be transported by train to the village from London Zoo. Produce was then sent back into London and sold in Covent Garden.

In Howard’s book, he takes these facts and weaves them into his narrative, which sees the train transporting the natural fertiliser derailed and Tom having to step in and help.

Howard, who also writes business manuals and is a glass artist, originally developed the character of Tom while creating his “Wishing Sticks” which he sells on St Albans market.

He said: “I put a flier together for the Wishing Sticks involving a character called Tom and that he was having a sad day when he saw beautiful coloured glass in the village’s Mill Race water. He pulled it out and wished on it for a better day. That became his special Wishing Stick.

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“People reading the flier at my stall started saying that they wanted to find out more about Tom and his Wishing Stick, so, although I had never written a children’s story, I started getting ideas together about Tom, Wheathampstead and his adventures.”

Howard researched the history himself with a little help from the Wheathampstead Heritage Society. Bonnie Friend, an illustrator and artist from Radlett, illustrated the book.

He will launch the book this Saturday at Waterstones on St Peter’s Street in St Albans from 11am. Wishing Sticks will also be available to buy as well as special editions of the book made with elephant dung paper.