A NEW book, Railways in Wharfedale – a signalman’s reflections by local resident F. W. (Bill) Smith, was officially launched at the Ilkley U3A Railways Group meeting on November 27. Bill, of Grange Avenue, Ben Rhydding, has been involved with the railways from an early age. Inspired by his engine-driver grandfather, Bill began train spotting at Ilkley Station at the age of seven and from 1942 he has kept detailed records of his observations. In 1946 he took his first photographs of locomotives and since then Bill and his camera have been inseparable. Aiming for a career on the railways, he applied for a position as signalman in 1948 but failed the medical examination on account of a sight defect. This meant 10 years working in Bradford and ‘spotting’ at the weekends, before he acquired contact lenses and re-applied for a railway job – without admitting he was wearing lenses! This time he passed the medical and secured his first job on the railway, porter-signalman at Embsay Station. There then followed positions as signalman at Burley-in-Wharfedale box (20 years) and Ilkley box (almost 10 years), and Bill retired in 1994 having completed 36 years’ service with British Railways and Railtrack. Railways in Wharfedale is an account of his life; a life bubbling over with enthusiasm for the railways as a job and a hobby, and of meticulous record-keeping and expert photography. Through its pages you can build up a comprehensive picture of the working of the railway in the age of steam and its less picturesque aftermath, ‘diesel-isation’ and electrification, set in the context of Wharfedale, a microcosm of the British railway system. The book can be purchased exclusively from The Grove Bookshop, Ilkley, and costs £12.95.