ANYONE wishing to catch a train at Queensbury Station would have met with quite a few challenges during the years the line was in operation.

Bad weather, in particular, was a hindrance to travellers. ‘The village itself was on the top of the hill, whereas the station was almost a mile away down a winding, windswept and unlit road,’ reports a new book delving into the history of the former Great Northern Railway routes linking Bradford, Halifax and Keighley via Queensbury.

Queensbury Station stood at a spot with the bleak name of Hole Bottom, which was actually in the neighbouring parish of Clayton. A photograph shows how steep and lengthy an incline travellers had to slog down to reach the platform, and back up to get home.

The routes were early casualties of post-war service cuts imposed by the British Transport Commission, says the book, in 'its vain attempt to streamline the network and balance the books.’

Great Northern Outpost Volume 2: The Halifax, Thornton & Keighley Railway is a fascinating and informative hardback, unearthing a wealth of information about these once-busy lines as well as photographs that will jog memories among local people who possibly travelled upon them.

The book, by authors and railway enthusiasts Alan Whitaker and Jan Rapacz, contains lost-forever scenes in villages such as Cullingworth - which closed in 1955 - with neat stations, and multiple tracks, accommodating passenger and goods traffic.

A sad reminder, one of Cullingworth station's historic concrete name board’s is preserved in the grounds of the local primary school, itself built on former allotments close to the site of the goods yard.

Following on from a previous book, volume two covers the railway line from Halifax to Keighley via North Bridge, Ovenden, Holmfield, Queensbury, Thornton, Denholme, Wilsden, Cullingworth and Ingrow

This line joined the Bradford & Thornton Railway at the unique Queensbury triangular station having passed through the lengthy 'Queensbury Tunnel', currently under the spotlight as campaigners fight to retain it for potential future use as a cycleway.

The book is an evocative mix of history and nostalgia, looking at scenes that were once taken for granted. Whitaker and Rapacz have sourced photographs of stations and track from the Bradford and Thornton Railway, taken both during its heyday and following its demise.

Soot-blackened buildings overlook the railway lines at Halifax Station during the heyday of steam.

The fine, Italianate style architecture beneath replaced a temporary wooden structure. Designed by Manchester architect James Butterworth, it opened in June 1855.

Thankfully, the splendour of the honeyed stone Halifax Station building, with its entrance portico and columns - now cleaned of soot and grime - can still be seen today. The removal of the platforms and canopy that once graced the station has left it in full view to be admired by visitors to the town.

One of the photos in this fascinating book shows an overhead view of Halifax from nearby Beacon Hill, revealing how the railways - spanning a large slice of ground - had to be ‘squeezed into the dense industrial landscape.’

The Halifax and Ovenden line was carried over a viaduct of 35 arches. Sadly, this impressive structure was demolished in 1981.

Using unique colour images, many never seen before, some of which date from the 1950s and show passenger services as well as goods and mineral traffic, the book will also be of interest to many people in the Bradford and surrounding area who currently use the 'Great Northern Railway Trail' for walking, cycling or other leisure activities.

Health benefits were not overlooked in the line's heyday - the Great Northern railway Company was keen to promote the health benefits of the countryside that could be reached from the line.

The Halifax, Thornton & Keighley Railway was the final part of the network to be completed. It provided a direct route between Halifax and Keighley by extending the earlier Halifax & Ovenden Railway to Queensbury where it joined the Bradford & Thornton Railway.

The Bradford & Thornton Railway was covered by the same authors in Great Northern Outpost Volume 1, published in 2016.

This new companion volume provides full colour coverage of the Halifax, Thornton and Keighley Railway for the first time. The Halifax & Ovenden and the Halifax High Level Railway, a later addition to the local network, are also featured.

Much of the information presented in the book and the vast majority of the images have never been published previously.

The authors have had a lifelong interest in the spectacularly engineered Queensbury Lines system which was characterised by fearsome gradients, deep cuttings, tunnels and superb viaducts.

Railway historian and former journalist Alan - author of several previous books and numerous magazine articles about railways in the Bradford area - is the son of the last station master on the Queensbury Lines. He grew up in Station House at Thornton, giving him a unique perspective on what happened during the last years of railway services on the Queensbury Lines.

Co-author Jan, a chartered engineer, grew up close to the line at Great Horton while it was still operational and has spent many years researching the history of the local network. His particular interest is in the promotion, planning, engineering and construction of the lines.

Both authors have been instrumental in initiating and promoting the Great Northern Railway Trail which includes a section of the former railway from Wilsden to Cullingworth featured in the book.

*Great Northern Outpost Volume 2: The Halifax, Thornton & Keighley Railway by Alan Whitaker and Jan Rapacz is published by Willowherb Publishing, priced £19.95. W: