A NEWLY published book featuring rare photographs of Keighley and its surroundings portrays the historic impact of the now defunct Halifax, Thornton and Keighley Railway.

"Great Northern Outpost Volume 2: The Halifax, Thornton and Keighley Railway", has been written and illustrated by railway historian and former Telegraph and Argus newspaper journalist Alan Whitaker and chartered engineer Jan Rapacz.

The co-authors explained that the former Great Northern Railway routes linking Bradford, Halifax and Keighley via Queensbury were casualties of post Second World War cuts.

Services continued until May 1955 when all stations on the line lost their passenger trains. Goods services continued for a few more years before they were also axed.

The end of the so-called "Queensbury Lines" came too early for the advent of mainstream colour photography.

However, research by Mr Whitaker and Mr Rapacz has unearthed enough material to illustrate the last years of this railway in colour for the first time.

The Halifax, Thornton & Keighley Railway was the final part of the network to be completed. It provided a direct route between Halifax and Keighley by extending the earlier Halifax & Ovenden Railway to Queensbury where it joined the Bradford & Thornton Railway.

Much of the information presented in the new book, and the vast majority of the images, has never been published previously.

The authors say they have both had a lifelong interest in the Queensbury Lines system which was characterised by steep gradients, deep cuttings, tunnels and impressive viaducts, such as Hewenden Viaduct outside Cullingworth.

Mr Rapacz grew up close to the line at Great Horton while it was still operational and has spent many years researching the history of the local network.

Mr Whitaker, who lives in Bingley, is the son of the last station master on the Queensbury Lines and grew up in the Station House at Thornton.

He said: "I saw the line closed to passengers in 1955 and to goods in 1965, so felt a responsibility to ensure the history of this particular networks of lines was preserved.

"I was in a unique position to witness the last years of operations.

"Also, I have access to quite a sizeable archive of papers, letters and other documents that my father had during this time at Thornton. I've used this material as primary source material, as well as putting in my own anecdotal contributions.

"No one else is in a position to provide these details, and I realised that as age catches up with me it was about time I did it.

"I knew Jan was doing his own research on this subject so I contacted him and suggested we pool our resources.

"The book covers the period of the line's decline, which has never been covered before, and never in colour.

"It has attracted a lot of interest and in the first month 750 copies of the book have been sold.

"This demonstrates that there is an interest in the heritage of the area."

"Great Northern Outpost Volume 2: The Halifax, Thornton and Keighley Railway" is available to buy at Keighley & Worth Valley Railway's Haworth Station shop. People can also visit willowherbpublishing.co.uk to buy it directly from the publishers.