Days when steam ruled the railways

Colchester to York express, the Cock o' the North pictured at Arksey 1952, from Yorkshire Railways by Peter Tuffrey.
Colchester to York express, the Cock o' the North pictured at Arksey 1952, from Yorkshire Railways by Peter Tuffrey.
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It’s full steam ahead for a new book charting the history of railways in South Yorkshire.

The coffee table tome has been created after a batch of never-before-published glass negatives were found in the archives of The Star’s sister title the Yorkshire Post.

The evocative images - most dating from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties - only came to light when the newspaper moved from its old Leeds headquarters in 2013. They show everything from locomotives and express trains being built at Doncaster Works to life at the old Wicker goods depot.

Later pictures capture the famous Sprinter train being unveiled at Sheffield Midland Station, while others are of crashes – including two at Tinsley in just three years.

Now, Midweek Retro brings you an exclusive first look at some of the fascinating photos.

Peter Tuffrey, The Star’s Weekend Retro correspondent, has used more than 100 of them to produce a compelling insight into our railway heritage. “The history of the railways is intimately linked with this region,” says the 60-year-old, of Warmsworth.

“Doncaster - along with Crewe, Swindon and Derby - was one of the big four train building centres in England with Doncaster Works alone employing 6,5000 people in the early 20th century. You also have the Barnsley firm, Qualter Hall & Co, which was responsible for producing the body for several of the Eurotunnel trains and the fact Sheffield - which, of course, once had two stations - has historically been on one of the country’s main railway arteries.”

The book, called Yorkshire Railways and published by Fonthill, covers all of the county as well as the South.

Its chapters focus on different aspects of the industry, including sheds and yards, naming ceremonies, bridges and a more macabre section on accidents.

“Will it just be train buffs who buy this?” ponders Peter, who has had more than 80 books on local history previously published.

“I don’t think so.

“Whether you’re a fan of trains or not, the pictures in this book are stunning.

“They hark back to - and really capture - another age in Britain. I think it offers a fascinating social history of Yorkshire too.”

n Yorkshire Railways is available in bookshops now at £12.99.