Holywell House, St AlbansHolywell  Hill

88 Holywell Hill, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 1DH, England
Web: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/
Phone: +44 1727-838595
Trade orders: Central Books

I was a retired academic publisher (ex University of Hertfordshire Press) until I started my own imprint in 2009 to publish a book about HMS Venomous, the elderly V&W Class destroyer on which my father served in World War II. Its success has inspired me to consider publishing other books on naval and maritime subjects.

This is very much a "family business" which I run with my wife from our home in St Albans. I use the same designer, printer and trade distributor as I did when I was in charge of the University of Hertfordshire Press. Although very small we pride ourselves on producing good books and providing a professional service to our authors.

Books can be ordered online post free with payment by cheque, card or PayPal or from high street bookshops who obtain their stock from our distributor, Central Books, or from their preferred wholesaler. The Book Depository is our recommended Internet bookseller for overseas customers.

Bill Forster, Holywell House Publishing

A Hard Fought Ship: the story of HMS Venomous

Cover of the new edition of A Hard Fough Ship (May 2017)HMS Venomous was a destroyer of the V & W Class, the most advanced in the world when built at the end of World War I and arguably the most successful ever. By the end of World War II they had all been sunk or scrapped but during those thirty years thousands of men served on them as convoy escorts on the East Coast, during the Battle of the Atlantic, on arctic convoys to Russia and in the Mediteranean.

A Hard Fought Ship is the most detailed study yet of the contribution made by a typical “old warrior” of this class to winning World War II. HMS Venomous brought back the troops from Boulogne and Dunkirk, fought off the U-boat that sank HMS Hecla while rescuing 500 survivors and escorted the invasion fleet to Sicily as well as escorting convoys to Nova Scotia, Russia and in the Mediterranean.

The story of HMS Venomous is told by its officers and crew and illustrated with 258 of their unique photographs taken in the heat of the action plus paintings, drawings and maps.

The previous edition was praised by Navy News as "an exemplary ship biography where a detailed narrative of the destroyer's exploits are brought to life by a wealth of first hand accounts" and described by the Naval Review "as being up in the same class as  'The Cruel Sea' for a picture  of small ship life in World War 2."

The first edition of this classic work on a typical V & W Class destroyer was published by the author in 1990 and quickly sold out. I offered to publish a new edtion but, sadly, the author Bob Moore died before its was completed and John Rodgaard agreed to take over. It was published in 2010 as a paperback and when it sold out a much enlarged hardback edition was published in 2017 and is now out of print but an e-book edition will be published in 2022. New material continues to be published on this website.

A Hard Fought Ship: the story of HMS Venomous; by R.J. Moore and J.A. Rodgaard.
Holywell House Publishing, 9 May 2017. ISBN 978-0-9559382-4-5. Hardback,  35

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Book CoverForty Years at Sea: a voyage with my father

This book is both a personal journey of discovery and the story of ships and shipping in Britain during the last century, revealed through the life of a typical marine engineer.

The author changed his mind about going to sea when his father told him that “I shall throw you out of the house if you do” but on leaving school he worked his passage to the West Indies on his father’s ship and in his early twenties while travelling the world worked as a deck boy and a junior officer on merchant ships in the East Indies and Pacific and was shipwrecked crewing a schooner in the China Sea.

In retirement he set out to discover who his father really was by “following the paper trail which even the most ordinary person who has been in the services or the Merchant Navy leaves behind.” His search uncovered a life which began with an apprenticeship as a fitter at a shipyard on the Tyne interrupted by service in the RAF as an 18 year old Observer Gunner on anti-submarine patrol in Orkney. In 1921 he went to sea as a marine engineer on oil tankers, an Antarctic whaler, tramp steamers, cargo liners and a Royal Fleet Auxilliary tanker.

Wartime service in the Royal Navy on a destroyer was followed by a regular run across the Atlantic to the Caribbean sugar estates of Tate and Lyle until retirement to the seaside resort of Exmouth in Devon after forty years at sea.

Forthcoming: date of publication to be announced

Forty Years at Sea: a Voyage with my Father; by William A. Forster.
Holywell House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9559382-1-4. Price: 14
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Holywell House (top left), the former home of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough before they moved into Blenheim Palace, stood at the bottom of Holywell Hill (top right)  in St Albans  until it was demolished in 1837 and replaced by a modest row of mid Victorian terraced cottages,
one of which is our home and the office of Holywell House Publishing.