SOME of the first public railways in Britain ran across Yorkshire and neighbouring County Durham.

Notable 19th century lines include the 25-mile Stockton & Darlington Railway connecting collieries around Shildon in County Durham to the River Tees at Stockton via Darlington, and the York and North Midland Railway formed to connect York to London through a link with the North Midland Railway.

Yorkshire-based historian and author Paul Chrystal’s book Yorkshire’s Days of Steam documents the rise of railways within the region. In those glory days of steam, powerful locomotives would power their way along main and branch lines, across the countryside, through cities, towns and rural villages.

West Yorkshire, of course, is not overlooked

The refined-sounding Midland Railway Leeds & Bradford Dining Car Express in 1905 is pictured on a postcard following a painting by F Moore, the collective name given to a group of artists working out of the same studio in the first two decades of the 20th century. They produced numerous paintings of the railways for the railway companies and, before colour photography, painted black and white photographs of steam locomotives from which they produced colour prints.

A detail from a lithograph by AF Tait shows Hebden Bridge Station on the Manchester & Leeds Railway in 1845. A charming rustic view, it shows men working on the tracks between the embankments, with the station and wooded valley sides in the background.

In another picture, steam gushes from two chimneys on the Standard 75045 as it leaves Bradford with its London-bound express in October 1959. This intriguing sight is one of 80 double-chimneyed locomotives designed in Brighton and introduced in 1951 and 1957. It is certainly eyecatching - sending vast plumes of steam skywards.

Manningham Station is pictures, with its gas lamps neatly spaced along the platform. It opened on February 17, 1868, and closed on March 20, 1965.

This well-researched book will evoke memories in readers of scenes that, in their youth, werea commonplace, but are now the domain of enthusiasts and tourists.

Yorkshire shares with County Durham the distinction of being a participant in the birth of public railways in Britain, writes Crystal. October 13, 1835, was a significant day - the York & North Midland Railway (Y&NMR) was formed to connect York to London by a line running to a junction with the planned North Midland Railway.

After a series of extensions, the York-London service opened in July 1840 with for trains a day travelling north and three south, terminating at Euston Square. It was one of the world’s first inter-city lines, writes Crystal. ‘The fastest journey was 9.30am travelling south, taking nine hours 45 minutes.’

In North-East England, representatives of the Y&NMR and the Stockton & Darlington Railway - constructed earlier to connect the Shildon collieries collieries to the River Tees - met to form the Great North of England Railway (GNER), with a main line from York to Newcastle.

Yorkshire’s Days of Steam captures engines in every corner of the region. The 4-6-0 London Midland and Scottish Railway Jubilee Class 45593 Kolhapur is pictured leaving the ornate arches of Forster Square Station in 1950. The 188 locomotives in the class were introduced from 1934, all bearing names derived the British empire.

Kolhapur is a city in the Panchganga River basin in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, annexed by the British in the 19th century. This locomotive was built in 1934 by the North British Locomotive Company of Glasgow. Originally numbered 5593, It hauled the train that carried Winston Churchill from Liverpool on his return from talks with Roosevelt in 1942. Following nationalisation in January 1948 it was renumbered 45593 by British Railways.

Class B1 4-6-0 61031 Reedbuck is pictured passing Pudsey Station, hauling mineral wagons. Reedbuck was introduced around 1942, with 409 others. Forty of the first 41 were named after African deer and antelopes. Some of the more exotic names were Bongo, Puku, Chiru and Bushbuck.

The first locomotive in the class to be built was 61000, named Springbok as its completion coincided with a visit to the UK by General Smuts, then Prime Minister of South, writes Crystal. Succeeding locomotives were also given names of various species of antelope but this plan had to be abandoned as there was insufficient types of the animal to provide names for the 410 locomotives which were eventually built.

Another loco in the Springbok class - number 61327 - is pictured at York in 1955. She was withdrawn from service ten years later.

The book contains a charming photograph of workers outside Skipton Engine Shed in 1910, dressed in suits and ties, with bowler hats and fob watches, possibly ready to go on an outing.

August 11, 1968, was a sad day for Yorkshire steam. Engines 44781 and 44871 hauled a special excursion advertised as 'the last BR steam train'. It is pictured steaming through Settle Junction. Rail travel would never be the same again.

*Yorkshire’s Days of Steam by Paul Chrystal is published by Stenlake Publishing, priced £10 W: T: 01290 551122.