THERE are few more evocative images than that of a steam locomotive surging through the spectacular North of England countryside.

And a rich collection of such images have been gathered together in a fascinating volume entitled 'The Last Years of North West Steam.'

As the title might suggest, the hardback book by Ben Brooksbank and Peter Tuffrey is a vivid photographic record of the final era of steam loco operation in the region.

Many of the 250 pictures, some of which are black and white and some colour and taken by a range of highly skilled amateur photographers, depict these majestic machines ploughing over the Cumbrian fells or through rolling farmland.

But there are just as many shots of the nitty gritty of steam locomotive operation, many showing them with an industrial backdrop of mills, factory chimneys and sidings or beside the water towers which slaked their thirst or the coalers which filled their tenders.

One particular photograph of the iconic coal tower at Carnforth station in operation will surely bring back many memories of that historic location set in a town which virtually owed its existence to the railways.

Railway buffs will also delight at the photos of the legendary Stanier Pacifics or the Jubilee 4-6-0s, and informative captions detail the locomotives as well as the locations.

In addition to that Carnforth picture, other locations captured include Bassenthwaite Lake, Bolton-le-Sands, Hest Bank, Lancaster, Morecambe, Tebay and Yanwath.

And images of well loved Stanier Class 5 locos battling past Scout Green as they tackle the testing Shap bank will have enthusiasts and ex-railwaymen alike going misty eyed.

The Last Years of North West Steam is published by Great Northern Books and is available priced £19.99 from most high street book stockists or from Great Northern Books on 01274 735056 or via the website