LATE last year Philip Davies, an internationally-renowned expert in heritage conservation, brought out a stunning book by the name of Lost England.

Mr Davies had spent seven years combing though Historic England's extraordinary archive of nine million images. He selected 1,300 of his favourites, and reproduced them in a stunning book that ran to 550 pages of extraordinary, pin-sharp photographs which showed the way England changed during the course of the Victoria era.

Lost England is a magnificent book - but a weighty one, too, which will set you back a not-inconsiderable £45.

Step forward local historian Paul Chrystal. He, too, has been given access to Historic England's extraordinary photo archive. But his book is much more focussed. He has concentrated on photographs of York. And his book - entitled, appropriately enough, Historic England: York - is a paperback which runs to just under 100 pages and is priced at a much more manageable £14.99.

As with Philip Davies' larger book, the quality of the photographs is extraordinary. They provide a wonderful glimpse of life in York in Victorian times and into the early 20th century.

The city that emerges from them is both industrious (look at the wonderful photographs of the carriage works on Holgate Road and of the Ebor Dairy in Lady Peckett's Yard in about 1902) and, in places, distinctly rundown and neglected (check out the pictures of a shabby-looking High Petergate in 1853, the gateway entrance to Holy Trinity Church on Goodramgate in 1904, or Merchant Adventurers' Hall in 1917).

The captions accompanying the photographs don't always tell you as much as you'd like to know. Why was High Petergate so run down in the 1850s, for example? A bit of historical explanation here about York's economic situation at the time would have been really useful. But the images themselves are so good that they can quite easily carry the book by themselves. A treat for anyone who loves to look back into York's history and see the way city city has changed.

Stephen Lewis

Historic England: York by Paul Chrystal is published by Amberley, priced £14.99