West Riding Steam Pictorial by Robert Anderson (Bellcode Books, £13.95)

Leafing through Robert Anderson’s photographic journey into the final days of steam, you can almost smell the oil, feel the heat from the coal fire and hear the whistle sounding as one of his beloved locomotives puffs into view.

Steam enthusiast Robert’s volume of previously-unpublished photographs, presented alongside nicely written recollections of his memories and experiences with steam, follows his first volume, Railway Memories West Riding Steam 1955 to 1969.

While that book was presented in chronological order, this new volume follows a mainly geographical format, featuring parts of the West Riding now in North, South or East Yorkshire.

It’s packed with high-quality black-and-white photographs recapturing the railway scene of the 1950s and 1960s. As well as steam and early diesel trains, there are pictures of stations, goods yards, engine depots and various railway structures from the golden age of steam before railways were changed forever by Dr Beeching.

The pictures are brought to life by reminiscences of people who worked on the railways and knew them well.

Robert has devoted a chapter to his native Bradford, which also features in other chapters.

Robert’s interest in steam locomotives began in the early Fifties when, as a youngster, he started trainspotting. In 1954, he was given a camera as a Christmas present, enabling him to photograph some of the splendid steam trains he encountered in his youth.

Robert’s book is a wonderful photographic journey through his youth spent spotting around the West Riding. One of his favourite locomotives was the old Great Northern Railway 0-6-2 tank.

“These hardy engines had been the mainstay of GNR local passenger trains over the severely-graded routes of the West Riding, especially the sadly-closed Queensbury lines connecting Halifax, Bradford and Keighley, but they were now in their final year or so of service,” he writes.

The chapter Around Bradford includes fine old scenes such as the expanse of approach lines and sidings that once marked the entrance to Forster Square, and locomotives such as Newfoundland and Clan Macleod arriving and departing.

A photograph of a Fairburn locomotive being turned by hand in the roundhouse of Manningham motive power depot in 1967 depicts the “grime, sweat and glory of steam.”

Driver Colin Wilson is pictured the same year, demonstrating the art of coaling with Manningham’s primitive coal stage. He tops up the tender of Ivatt Class 43044 for the last time; Robert recalls the depot closed the following day, and the loco transferred to Leeds Holbeck.

There are pictures of mighty freight trains and stations and branch lines that no longer exist, such as Eccleshill and Idle.

A rather poignant picture is of an old Compound locomotive which pulled the Saturdays-only Morecambe-Bradford express, which ceased running in 1958. It was left languishing in Manningham yard.

The following year, Robert found it had been given a “superior greasing down, including cab fittings, and within the next few days had been taken inside the roundhouse and sacking placed over its chimney.” He wondered if it had been earmarked as a standby, but it was towed away to Doncaster Works and broken up.

There’s something sad about these magnificent engines ending up standing alone in a yard, like an old horse being put out to pasture. Unless you have an interest in steam or railways in general, this book probably isn’t for you. The text is full of technical details that lost me, but overall I enjoyed the tone of the book, and the impressive photography. With these lovely old photographs and charming recollections from former railway workers, it’s a pleasant, nostalgic read and a useful reference book. And with track layouts, operating instructions, timetables and Robert’s diary snippets about events taking place on the area’s railways half a century ago, it’s a must-have for steam enthusiasts.