THE story of how the Great Northern Railway line was axed in the Bradford district is being told in a new book.

Great Northern Outpost: Bradford & Thornton Railway Volume 1 – a second is expected later this year – is told by former Telegraph & Argus reporter Alan Whitaker and his co-author, Jan Rapacz, in a spectacular series of colour photographs.

The 107 pictures, collected over a lifetime of train-spotting by like-minded enthusiasts, show the line in its later times when only goods services ran and in the earlier, romantic days of steam when passengers could take the train on routes linking Bradford, Halifax and Keighley via Queensbury.

Many of the images show a railway system in its last throes before being swept away.

Like that on Sunday, September 6, 1964, as train buffs photographed the last passenger train to visit Thornton.

And a winter scene of the snow-covered Keighley platform on the abandoned Thornton station. It was demolished a few months later in July 1963.

Mr Whitaker relates how the railway was a victim of post-war service cuts imposed by the British Transport Commission.

“Within a year of nationalisation in 1948, the ‘Queensbury Lines’ had been identified as high on maintenance costs and low on passenger revenue,” he said.

“The writing was very much on the wall but services continued until May 1955 when all 12 intermediate stations lost their passenger trains.

“The more lucrative goods services continued for a few more years.”

The authors have both had a lifelong interest in the Queensbury lines system. Mr Whitaker is the son of the last Station Master on the Bradford & Thornton Railway and he grew up in the Station House at Thornton.

Mr Rapacz, a chartered engineer, grew up close to the line at Great Horton and witnessed the final years of steam operation.

He has spent many years researching the history of the lines.

Both authors have been instrumental in initiating the Great Northern Railway Trail – a cycle and walkway being built along the route of the line.