DURING the great age of steam, probably no county in England enjoyed quite such a variety of steam locomotives, trundling along branch lines or thundering on express routes between London and Edinburgh, as did


At one point there were no fewer than seven separate railway companies operating in the county. And their great steam locos passed through cathedral cities like York, grimy mill towns, sleepy country halts and thriving coastal resorts. They also chugged across some extraordinary viaducts.

Those great days of Yorkshire steam are long gone. But local historian and archivist Peter Tuffrey has done a magnificent job of bringing them back to life in the pages of his new book, The Last Years of Yorkshire Steam.

This is no wordy, worthy history of the railways in Yorkshire. Instead it is a sumptuous collection of hundreds of stunning photographs, each with an incisive and well researched caption, arranged alphabetically by station or halt so that they are easy to navigate.

Some of the photographs – such as the one showing an unidentified locomotive crossing the Staithes viaduct in 1960 – are simply stunning. The viaduct looks impossibly frail, a slender structure of metal and air spanning a great rift in the ground. It was sadly demolished in 1960: surely an extraordinary example of short-term thinking.

It lives on in a photograph reproduced on page 128 of Peter’s book courtesy of Neil Cholmondeley, however – as do countless other stations, halts and sidings in this part of Yorkshire, from the yard sidings at York to rural Sledmere and Fimber station up on the Wolds.

A beautiful book that is richly evocative of a railway era that is gone but not forgotten.

Stephen Lewis

l The Last Years of Yorkshire Steam by Peter Tuffrey is published in hardback by Great Northern, priced £19.99. It is available from greatnorthernbooks.co.uk (Tel 01274 735056) and all good bookshops.