Why is nostalgia for the past so deeply prevalent among Bradford people?

The quick answer is that they haven’t got a lot to look forward to. When the future is unpromising and the present is full of apprehension, the tendency is to reconnect with another time when things were different.

Another answer is that exploring the past by means of Ordnance Survey maps is a form of social archaeology for which a university degree is not required. Searching for the past also entails a good bit of walking, and that’s been a popular activity in these parts since before J B Priestley were a lad.

This seems to be the reason why Stan Ledgard decided to take a dive into the past; so far, he has come up with eight books of local history. His latest is called Forgotten Villages: Raggalds, Mountain And West Scholes.

Stan said: “Most folk in West Yorkshire have heard of Queensbury and the Black Dyke Band. Many know Thornton as the Bronte sisters’ birthplace. Between the two lies the largely unknown and undocumented valley of Bradford-dale. ‘Nowt theer ’cept fer t’Raggalds pub’, you might say.”

You might, but not in that way.

“But there used to be! Coal mines, mills, brickmakers, breweries; tales of mystery and murder; legends and local humour.

“I’d always thought of Black Dyke Mill as being the first in the area, but actually the mill at Mountain was up and running almost 15 years before that.

“The school at Raggalds, known as Raggalds Inn School, opened in the mid-1800s and was also a place of worship.

“At West Scholes were coal pits where children were employed underground some 30 years after the practice was declared illegal. There are folk tales galore.”

Stan, now 63, is in what he describes as “active retirement”. He went to Green Lane School and then Bradford Grammar School, worked as a conductor on Bradford’s trolley-buses – experiences which he later related in five booklets – and went on to be a civil servant at the Ministry of Technology.

“I was in sewage, in Stevenage, for about three-and-a-half years,” he said. He’s run a hotel, worked in education at Bradford College and, with his wife Shirley, currently runs Spooks bookshop in Haworth, which specialises in the paranormal and complementary medicine, and the Bobtail Press.

With eight books put together since 2006, he says more volumes are in preparation, including a history of his home town. Bradford: A Funny Old Place, a humorous look at the place since the days of the Romans, which should be out in time for Christmas.

With the help of Shirley, he researched, compiled, wrote and published his books in the past three years. Forgotten Villages, which took 15 years, was written in and among the others.

“The difficulty has been finding people with local knowledge and getting them to talk about it. Having got it, then it needs checking to see if the dates and facts are correct.

“The problem with local history is there’s plenty of it around if you can find it, because it’s not sold at the Central Library now. That’s a great shame. I have to go to Low Moor if I want to find out anything about Low Moor, or contact the local history society.

“Local history is not only recording memories but getting people now to look at where they live. If people looked more at what’s around them they would find a lot of interest.

“People hardly look up at the facades, the towers, the domes, the trimmings on buildings. There’s plenty of scope for guided tours to show people what’s there,” he said.

Forgotten Villages is a 225-page compendium of old photographs, diagrams, family trees, dialect verses and personal histories.

“It’s been well received by local historians. It fills a gap not covered by histories of Thornton, Clayton and Queensbury. I am getting orders from all over the country,” he added.

If Stan hasn’t yet been down your way with a map in one hand and a notebook in the other, probably it’s only a pleasure deferred.

“If you really want to discover an area, get a good local map – the Ordnance Surveys of the 1890s to 1930s are great – and take a few walks when it’s fine and dry. Driving around is not the way to do it!”

Forgotten Villages: Raggalds, Mountain And West Scholes, is published by Bobtail Press, 22 Main Street, Haworth, at £12.95.