Who chooses the books?

Book Choice Team

The small unincorporated community team behind the A Town Explores A Book festival are a lively and imaginative team of dedicated volunteers who make the book choice.

The team aim to choose very different heritage books every year that highlight anniversaries. Thus in 2023, Mary Seacole’s Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole In Many Lands marked Mary Seacole’s first solo journey to England from Jamaica as a young woman. The centenary of author E. Nesbit’s death was behind the 2024 book choice, The Railway Children.

Book Choice for A Town Explores A Book 2025

Iguanodon Teeth image from Gideon Mantell's paper

Marking the bicentenary of the naming of the Iguanodon, the Royal Society grants permission for an A Town Explores A Book 2025 edition of palaeontologist Gideon Mantell’s paper in which he names the fossil reptile found in Sussex. He presented this paper at the Royal Society in January 1825, 17 years before the name dinosaur came into use, an umbrella name coined by Sir Richard Owen.

Creative Writing Competition Prize Winners

2024 Writing Comp Prizegiving

All young writers who entered the A Town Explores A Book 2024 Creative Writing Competition are commended for their lively, imaginative writing themed on trains. Our sparkling award event on 7th May 2024 was a chance to congratulate highly commended entries and runners up and to thank teachers and parents who have supported children to take part.

Platform Panel Project – Station

Southeast Communities Rail Partnership CIC’s Platform Panel Project at St Leonards Warrior Square Station raises awareness of local railway history.

Platform Panel Project – Tunnels

Southeast Communities Rail Partnership CIC’s Platform Panel Project at St Leonards Warrior Square Station raises awareness of local railway history.

Growing Up

Growing Up

Find Seaview Project’s creative response to the book in two bench shelters on the promenade. The artists explore personal reflections of growing up responding to the experiences of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis in E Nesbit’s The Railway Children.

Platform Panel Project

Platform Panel Project

St Leonards Warrior Square Station.

Southeast Communities Rail Partnership With ExploreTheArch’s early career team explore working class stories In the local railway heritage.

“shining metals”

Zoom Arts Gallery

Zoom Arts Gallery.
St Leonards Warrior Square Station.

St Leonards Warrior Square Station.
The Zoom Arts collective explores various aspects of the local rail history and The Railway Children.

“picks and spades”

Station Path

Station Path
off Station approach.

Artist ARRAN
honours the workers who
built St Leonards on Sea’s
rail infrastructure.

“with a shriek and a snort”

With a shriek and a snort

Hastings and Bexhill Mencap’s Active Arts are inspired by E Nesbit’s The Railway Children to make a model of St Leonards Warrior Square Station as it was.

“the rush of its passing”

the rush of its passing

Activity Hub.
Archer Lodge, Charles Road.

Free family activities accompanying
“I thought engineering was making engines” exhibition and “with a shriek and a snort” exhibition.

“metals of the up-line”

Metals of the up-line

Bus stops in London Road.

Photographer Jules Earl explores aspects of St Leonards on Sea’s
rail infrastructure.

“a great dragon tearing by”

a great dragon tearing by

Asda supermarket path and Thealken Drive.

ExploreTheArch early career artists
curate 3000 children’s sketches inspired by the book bringing trains to this part of town.

Wisdoms Installation

Wisdoms Installation

Four Courts Wellbeing Hub.

installation featuring
wisdoms shared by the
Four Courts community
prompted by wisdoms in
The Railway Children.
Filmmaker: Rod Morris.

Emotional Landscapes Exhibition

Emotional Landscapes Exhibition

Four Courts Wellbeing Hub.

Mixed media exhibition
by members of the
Four Courts Community
responding to the characters’
explorations in the landscape.

Perks the Porter Activity Hub

Perks the porter activity hub

Four Courts Wellbeing Hub.

Outdoor art on the
fence of this venue
with free family activities
Inside accompanying
mixed media exhibition
‘Emotional Landscapes’
and installation

2024 Closing Event

2024 Closing Event

Sunday 14 April, 4pm
Christ Church, Silchester Road.
Explore composer Johnny Douglas’
score for the 1970 film
The Railway Children.
A talk by the composer’s granddaughter.
Live music from the people of
St Leonards-on-Sea.

Kings Road Street Party

Kings Road Street Party

Saturday 30 March, 11am-3pm

On the Saturday of Easter weekend Kings Road becomes one big train-themed party.

2024 Writing Competition

5 – 14 year olds are invited to enter the 2024 festival creative writing competition themed on trains.

What do you love about train journeys, stations, tunnels, ticket offices?

A Town Explores A Book 2024 Trail

The 2024 festival has now closed. Creative responses to E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children were originated by Bohemia Creative Quarter, Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, Four Courts Connect, Hastings and Bexhill Mencap’s Active Arts, Kings Road Traders, Seaview Project, Stitch tlc, Zoom Arts and with the larger station project a collaboration between ExploreTheArch and Southeast Communities Rail Partnership with Network Rail and Southeastern Railway. The downloadable trail map guided festival goers round the outdoor art, indoor exhibitions and activities and street events.

Free Holiday Fun

ATEAB 2024 Poster

The festival opens Saturday 30th March 2024 in St Leonards-on-Sea with the Kings Road street party, the opening of the Platform Panel project at St Leonards Warrior Square station and a festival trail across town.

2024 Festival Flyer

Festival Flyer 2024

The A Town Explores A Book 2024 book choice is E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children.

Explore the book from 30 March – 14 April in two festival street events, the festival art trail with two activity hubs offering week day exhibitions and free family activities and an exhibition at Zoom Arts Gallery accompanying the Station Platform Panel Project.

The World of the Book in Miniature

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre CIC have begun their automata-making workshops in schools as part of the 8 Ways to Connect festival schools engagement programme.

Funding for Four Courts Community

A Town Explores A Book is a reader-led festival. We are excited that #MakingItHappen funding has been granted through Hastings Voluntary Action for the Four Courts high rise neighbourhood to take part in the festival.

Marking the Centenary of Author E. Nesbit’s Death

The St Leonards-on-Sea’s community and festival visitors are exploring E. Nesbit’s I905 book and have a number of editions of “The Railway Children” to choose from. The festival book choice for 2024 was published in I905 and has remained in print.

Researching Steam Trains

Three trains sped core team members from St Leonards-on-Sea to the National Railway Museum at York and back for a research day in December.

Schools Bunting Gallery

School Bunting Gallery COMING SOON This space will be updated to display all the artwork produced by young artists participating in our bunting activity inspired by Wonderful Adventures of Mrs […]

Outdoor Art Trail

Explore the art trail to explore the book! The outdoor art in the open spaces of St Leonards-on-Sea invites you outside for multiple visits to consider what this heritage book means to you

Shop Window Displays

The independent businesses in the town offer their perspectives on Mary Seacole’s book in a trail of window displays…

Workshop: Make a porcelain boat

Make a boat in porcelain to hang in your home with Liz Emtage of Pelham’s, in Kings Road. The workshops run over two afternoons

Bohemia Creative Quarter Sunday

Pick up your hand-made festival passport and explore the creative businesses in Bohemia Creative Quarter, complete with activities and live music…