Belfast Telegraph

Overdue book to be returned to Bangor Library after 60 years

By Christopher Woodhouse

An overdue book is about to be returned to a Co Down library - 60 years after it was borrowed.

Abadan: A First-hand Account of the Persian Oil Crisis by Norman Kemp was borrowed from Bangor Carnegie Library on May 13, 1955 by local newspaper editor Frank Entwisle.

It was not heard of again until his son Dan rediscovered it as he cleared out the family home in Tynemouth, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, following the death of his parents.

"I rang up the library but I was careful before I admitted anything in case I was liable for an £8,000 fine," Mr Entwisle told the Belfast Telegraph.

Fortunately for the radio journalist, the library caps late return fees at £5.

Had it continued at the 1955 rate of 1d per week, he would now have to pay around £240 in today's money.

Originally from Sunderland, Frank Entwisle left the Daily Mirror in 1954 to edit a local newspaper in Co Down, The Northern Herald, at the behest of his wife Sally who disliked living in London.

"I don't think he fitted in in Bangor. He didn't give a damn what your religion was if you were good at your job," said Dan.

"He may have run into some issues there, from the impression he used to give me."

The book recalls the crisis which erupted between Britain and Iran following the nationalisation of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company assets by the Iranian government in 1951.

"He had an enduring interest in the Middle East after working in Iran for the Daily Mirror," Mr Entwisle recalled.

While in Iran, Frank was once kidnapped as he walked along the street, bundled into a car and driven to meet a rebel commander.

"He said it was all very polite. The general came into the room and said in perfect English: 'I believe you would like to know what I'm up to?', and then gave him an interview," Dan explained.

Frank filed his copy before leaving Iran and his clandestine scoop roused the ire of the authorities who accused him of working for MI6.

"He left Iran after being accused of being a spy. He assured me he wasn't, but when he rang the Daily Mirror office from Paris they told him he'd caused a bit of a fuss," said Dan.

After leaving Northern Ireland in 1955, Frank worked as a feature writer for the Daily Express before becoming a television producer in the 1960s.

He later wrote for The Sunday Times before returning to the Sunderland Echo where he worked for the last 20 years of his career, still filing new stories well into his mid-70s.

Frank died in 2006 at the age of 79, not long after finally retiring from the Sunderland Echo.

"That was effectively the end of his life. When he gave up on journalism he gave up on life," said Dan.


While 60 years overdue is remarkable, it is not a record. A copy of The Law of Nations by Emmerich de Vattel was borrowed by President George Washington from the New York Society Library. For the next 221 years, it remained stowed away at his Virginia home until being returned in 2010.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph