A Blackburn man has returned a 118-year-old book back to a local library.

Library staff were overjoyed when 80-year-old Tony Thompson walked into his local library last week to return the book.

‘The Speculations of John Steele’ by Robert Barr was published in 1905 and later found its way to a car boot sale at King George’s Hall where Mr Thompson bought it more than 40 years ago.

He had kept hold of it ever since, and the hardback book is still in great condition with all the pages intact.

It has the Darwen Library stamp on it dated June 24, 1907, and a list of rules which reminds the borrower to ‘return to the library within the time specified on their respective labels, but the time for reading may be renewed on application at the discretion of the librarian'.

It also asked borrowers to keep the books ‘clean’.

Blackburn Library staff said they were always happy to have any books back but could not confirm when it was last checked out.

It could well be one of the oldest books ever to find its way 'back home'.

Mr Thompson said he had thought nothing of it until he read somewhere that a man had returned a book to a library after 100 years.

He said: “It was back in the late seventies or early eighties when I picked it up and took good care of it. We were having a clear out and then I spotted this.

“I have a number of old books at home but none with a library stamp on them.”

Lancashire Telegraph: The book is in remarkably good condition

Mr Thompson said he did not have a car and couldn’t get to Darwen so decided to hand it to the team at Blackburn Central Library.

He said: “I would have liked to go Darwen but I thought it best to go to Blackburn and they can maybe pass it on.

 “I am not into e-mails or the internet so I wouldn’t really know any other way to help get the word out to be honest.

“I just thought it would be good for the book to be returned back to the library.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Library staff with the 118-year-old copy of ‘The Speculations of John Steele’ by Robert Barr 

Joseph Pomfret was the Librarian for the Borough of Darwen from 1906 to 1929, covering the period in 1908 when the iconic Carnegie Library officially opened.

However, Darwen’s first library facility was located in the newly established Mechanic’s Institute, which was set up in 1839. So, this copy may have been passed on to the new library.

Adele Karwat, service manager, said: “We welcome the return of any overdue stock, there are no late return charges and its worth anyone who hasn’t been to the library for a while to visit us and experience the wide range of services, resources and activities we have on offer.”

Ebrahim Sidat from Blackburn Library said: “We are so happy that it is back.

“It is in fantastic condition and you can read all the way. All the pages are intact and the cover is still on. This is an amazing find.

"I don’t think we have had a book this old returned. And it is a classic.”

Who was Robert Barr?

Robert Barr (16 September 1849 – 21 October 1912) was a Scottish-Canadian short story writer and novelist who also worked as a newspaper and magazine editor. 

Barr would write short stories which featured a witty narrator and an ironic twist.