TRAVELLING via the Settle & Carlisle line, number 45565 Victoria - based at Low Moor - was making the journey with the Jubilee Railway Society’s South Yorkshireman rail tour in September 1966.

The evocative picture is one of many contained in two books focusing upon Bradford’s railways in days gone by.

As 45565 Victoria idles under School Street bridge, pity the poor fireman, standing to the side taking a breather before the exertion he faces, furiously shovelling coal in the hours ahead.

Revealing long lost railway lines and magnificent engines, as well as familiar and not-so-familiar views of the district, Volume 1 of Bradford Railways in Colour covers the former Midland Railway network out of Forster Square station, including the Airedale line to Shipley, Apperley Bridge and Keighley, as well as the Wharfedale route to Ilkley.

Volume 2 looks at the other half of the local network which radiated from Bradford Exchange station, a short distance across the city centre, with services provided by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and the Great Northern Railway.

Featured are the ex-L&YR line to Wyke, the former GNR lines towards Leeds and Wakefield via Laisterdyke and Dudley Hill, Birkenshaw and Drighlington, and the Laisterdyke to Idle and Shipley & Windhill branch. It concludes with a journey to Thornton and Keighley via St Dunstans and Queensbury.

One charming photograph shows a steam train curling around a corner, a cluster of allotment huts to one side and a group of schoolboys, leaning curiously out of the windows.

In another, two rail workers take a break, sitting on a convenient parcels trolley alongside an engine idling in Bradford Exchange.

It is hard to comprehend the volume of passenger and freight traffic on the railway network around Bradford during the post-war era. The well-researched books by railway historians Alan Whitaker and Jan Rapacz, provide a stark reminder of how vast and busy it was.

Having grown up in Bradford, former journalist Alan - whose father was station master at Thornton, and chartered engineer Jan have, as they say, ‘witnessed the decline first hand.’

One of the saddest images, in Volume 2, is that of Low Moor station during the early stages of demolition in 1966. The sign ‘STATION MASTER’ lies among the debris on the disused platform with its ornate iron canopy and lamps still clinging on.

‘Demolition operations such as these were re-enacted all over the country in the wake of the Beeching closures which saw more than 2,000 stations and swathes of the national network wiped from the map,’ the book states.

The books are packed with interesting detail. The long-gone Adolphus Street passenger station, with its elegant arched roof - volume 2 has a wonderful picture - was closed to passengers in the mid-19th century but in 1882 it was briefly cleared of wagons and goods so it could accommodate special trains bringing thousands of visitors to Bradford in connection with a Royal visit.

It is not the only piece of the district’s rail history that has found a new lease of life.

Frizinghall signal box came out of service after the closure of the goods lines in 1971 and was sold to the Keighley & Worth Valley Preservation Society. It is now in a new home near Oakworth.

Decommissioned in 1994, Shipley Bingley Junction box is also now used on the Keighley & Worth Valley line. It can be seen today just beyond platform three at Keighley station.

Yet, sadly, there are many more pictured here, with their neat roofs and chimneys, that were not so fortunate.

There’s a great picture of an engine, Jubilee 45565 Victoria steaming past Birkenshaw signal box while a group of young lads stand on a wall at the level crossing, watching it. Through the ages, trains have never failed to fascinate.

An evocative picture of the cavernous entrance to Exchange Station, which looks enticing for all its shabbiness. It was replaced in 1973 by Bradford Interchange.

A panoramic shot shows a Fairburn tank engine pulling carriages towards Laisterdyke in February 1964. Most views across the city contain at least one mill chimney, in a city then peppered with them.

Both books contain collections of images that will transport Bradfordians back to the days when local rail services were very much a part of life.

The pictures form a unique record of those days. It is just as well that people like photographer John Holroyd and many others, recognised the value of capturing these scenes. In December 1961, on the last day of service at Drighlington For Adwalton station, the snow was so bad that buses were suspended. Holroyd trudged two miles through deep snow so that he could travel into Bradford then on to Keighley where he wanted to record the last day of passenger services on the Worth Valley branch.

At Drighlington, he managed to persuade the flat-capped duty porter to stand on the freezing platform for a photo, beneath the station sign - and what a great image it is.

*Bradford Railways in Colour Volume 1: The Midland Lines; Volume 2: The Lancashire & Yorkshire and Great Northern Lines by Alan Whitaker & Jan Rapacz are published by Willowherb Publishing, priced £19.95 and £21.95 respectively.