AS book titles go, this one is as direct as any Yorkshireman. Historic England: Yorkshire is an illustrated history of this, the largest county, taking a nostalgic look at its ancient and industrial past.

Illustrated with photographs from the Historic England Archive - a collection of more than 12 million photos, drawings, plans and documents covering the country's archaeology, architecture, social and local history - the book highlights some of Yorkshire's most important historic sites, and the changing face of its towns and cities.

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It is a county of contrasts - vast swathes of unspoilt countryside and picture-postcard pretty villages; long stretches of coastline with the resort towns of Whitby, Scarborough and Bridlington; West Yorkshire milltowns like Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax; and the steel towns of Doncaster and Rotherham. And it is filled with important castles, cathedrals and abbeys from medieval times, from Fountains Abbey to York Minister.

The book includes some stunning images: a sprawling aerial shot of the River Tees at Barnard Castle, with Yorkshire on the right and County Durham on the left; elegant country houses including Harewood House and Castle Howard, and RAF Fylingdales in the days when the early warning system was made up of ‘giant golf balls’ rather than the mysterious pyramid of today; and the Humber Bridge under construction.


Author Andrew Graham Stables says the aim of his book is to "explore the four corners of the county, from the industrial centre of Sheffield to the beauty of historic York, from the important port of hull to the industrial heartland of Leeds and Bradford".

"Yorkshire! Yorkshire! Yorkshire! It's a shout heard on the terraces at football matches, or made by some boastful Yorkshire bands at music venues and chanted on sports fields throughout the county. It can claim to be England's largest county, with some of the most diverse countryside and a wealth of history," he writes. “West Yorkshire towns like Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford were the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution and the steel towns of South Yorkshire...were fuelled by the coal mining industry.

“Swaledale is home to Britain’s highest pub... the most well-known slavery abolitionist came from Yorkshire, the county claims to be the birthplace of club football and Rugby league and York, with its layers of heritage, includes the Shambles and the oldest working convent in England.”

The book has almost 100 pages of extraordinary photographs, with reasonably informative captions. Unfortunately many of the images are undated, making it difficult to relate them to other things going on throughout the last 100 years or so. But there are usually enough clues in the photos - clothes, style of cars and so on - to give at least a rough idea of when each was taken.

We have room for only a small selection here. But if you love Yorkshire and you love old photos, this book is well worth checking out. The photographs we have chosen show:

* Skipton Castle which, writes Andrew, has a history inseparable from the Clifford family: "The family was granted the property by Edward II in 1310 when Robert Clifford was appointed 1st Lord Clifford of Skipton and Guardian of Craven, the wide tract of countryside to the north and west of Skipton.

The Cliffords' Norman forebears took the name from Clifford Castle in Herefordshire, which they also owned. Robert Clifford began heavily fortifying Skipton Castle, but was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, with his new stronghold barely completed.

During the Civil War, Skipton was the last Royalist bastion in the North, yielding only after a three-year siege in 1645. The property was restored by the formidable Lady Anne Clifford and remained the Cliffords' principal seat until 1676."

The photograph of the canal barge at Skipton reflects the history of the waterways, essential for the transport of raw materials and goods.

  • South sands, Scarborough, filled with hundreds of visitors, some with bathing machines in the sea. The headland separating the two bays at Scarborough has evidence of human activity dating back to 2000BC, as well as evidence of an Iron Age settlement, a Roman signal station and a Saxon chapel. The Norman castle that dominates the site is believed to have been built initially in the late 1130s.
  • RAF Fylingdales, the country's defence and early warning systems, which still remain in Yorkshire. The famous ‘golf balls’ in the middle of Goathland Moor have now been replaced with a dark, triangular radar system.
  • Ilkley, looking north along Brook Street, showing the railway bridge and a line of horse-drawn vehicles queuing in the road, and the town's outdoor swimming pool and lido, taken in the mid-1900s. The outdoor pool is now only open from the Spring Bank holiday until September, or end of the season.

Historic England: Yorkshire by Andrew Graham Stables, published by Amberley, priced £14.99.