WILLIAM Smith steps out alongside his pet goose.

Sporting his waistcoat and tie, along with a flat cap, he walks across a cobbled street in his home village of Haworth, the goose happily strutting its stuff in his shadow.

The comical image is among many chosen by author Paul Chrystal to illustrate rural life in Yorkshire in days gone by.

His book Old Yorkshire Country Life contains more than 50 old photographs showing various aspects of rural life in England’s largest county between 60 and 100 years ago.

There’s a fascinating, undated photograph entitled ‘The Morning Wash, Bradford’s Back to the Land pioneers’. Back-to-the-land was the term used for the many agrarian movements that sprung up over the decades.

It called for people to take up smallholding in a bid to grow food from the land on a small-scale basis, whether for themselves or for others.

A group of flat-capped men gather around tin bucket to wash as they prepare for the day’s work. They stand in front of a tent pitched on open land just a stone’s throw from the terraced streets and factory chimneys of the city.

There have been a variety of motives behind such movements, such as social reform, land redistribution, and civilian war efforts.

The paperback includes ‘old methods of agriculture and old agricultural machinery, country crafts, country pubs and market towns, fairs, country characters and country living.’

‘The rural economy in Yorkshire has always been substantial,’ writes Paul. Figures compiled by the Country Land and Business Association in 2015 show that 54,000 rural businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber are responsible for contributing 317 billion worth of goods and services to the UK economy, while employing more than 400,000 people.

One of the most captivating images is that of sheep on their way to Skipton livestock market in 1944, when the town was an important centre for wool trading. It must be a common sight as some of the passers-by are not paying attention at all. There’s a sign advertising the beer, Tetley (not to be confused with the tea of the same name) on the front of the Railway Inn - it is comforting to know that some things have not changed.

Another herd, this time cows, is pictured being driven by a man on a bicycle along a lane at Norwood near Otley. It looks as if they are turning off the road, beside the Sun Inn, a 200-year-old former coaching inn. This pub too is supplied by Tetley and also has a sign.

A marvellous image taken in the centre of Knaresborough shows smartly dressed ladies strolling along looking in shop windows, while men gather on the opposite side of the street to trade geese.

‘Geese were shod - by walking them over tar then sand - to save their feet on the road to market,’ writes Paul.

Knaresborough is again shown with a herd of donkeys in the main street on market day. Horse-drawn carts can be seen in the background.

‘In Victorian times, the Improvement Commissioners ordered the washing down of the filthy street after each market day,’ writes Paul, ‘but it was not until 1907 that a permanent site for the cattle market was established on land between High Street and Stockwell Road.’

The town was once known for its locally-grown liquorice, then cherries, and in the early 19th century sold more corn each week than any other Yorkshire market.

An avid collector of old photographs, Paul has written numerous books on the history of North Yorkshire and York, the city close to his home. One image shows the old smithy in Bingley, around 1930, above which is an advert for ‘Bouillon Fleet’ - ‘beef and nothing but beef’, ideal for gravies, soups and beef tea, popular from at least the 1880s.

The ramshackle building in which the smithy is housed, and those on either side, have stone-tiled roofs typical of many in West Yorkshire.

There is an array of interesting farm machinery pictured in the book, from traction engines to threshing machines, binding machines and carts.

In Sowerby Bridge an extraordinary mobile hand loom is pulled by a horse during the 1906 Jubilee celebrations.

Rural crafts pictured include quilting, making besoms (brooms made of twigs tied round a stick) and churning milk in a barrel churn to make butter. A family photograph taken in the Wharfedale village of Grassington features a butter churn, and another shows two Dales women using one.

The Great Yorkshire Show is not overlooked. Before 1951, when Harrogate became its official home, the event was held in different towns every year.

With plenty to interest and entertain, the book offers an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

*Old Yorkshire Country Life by Paul Chrystal is published by Stenlake, priced £10. Visit stenlake.co.uk