TRANSPORT was obviously a big issue in York in the early 1900s.

No fewer than three of the historical advertising posters from that period that we reproduce today feature transport in one way or another.

There is Dent's of Stonegate (which had a workshop in Wellington Row), builder of the 'celebrated' New Ebor and Ebor cycle. Featuring the latest in 'free wheels, rim and back pedal brakes', these cycles were known throughout the world, according to the poster. "They are designed and made for the purpose of meeting the entre approval of purchasers who want and appreciate a Cycle of the Highest Grade... Cycling is a pleasure if you ride a New Ebor."

Wales & Son of Clifford Street (works in Ogleforth) also offered cycles. But the company boasted a newer form of transport, too - the motor car. Wales & Son described itself as 'Carriage builders, motor car builders, motor engineers, cycle agents'. "Any make of motor car supplied," it promised. "Bodies built to any chassis." This is a neat reminder that, in the early days of the motor car, you bought your chassis then got a carriage builder to design a body to your own specifications. Two body designs feature on the Wales & Son poster - an impossibly frail-looking carriage that looks as if it should have been pulled by a horse; and a more robust design that much more closely resembles our idea of early motor cars.

The photograph of a car in the poster advertising North Eastern Garages Ld, of Blake Street, also looks more like the early motor cars of our imagination. It is open-topped, with plush leather seats and the registration number AJ 196. Northern Eastern Garages (formerly Leather Brothers) boasts repairs at moderate charges and fast cars for hire - and from its motor boat department, motor launches that can be hired from Lendal Bridge.

All three of these posters, plus the others on these pages today, come from the 1908 Mates York Directory. A copy of the directory was acquired by the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (YAYAS), which at some point made a copy of the individual pages and supplied the images we have used today. The late Hugh Murray once co-operated with YAYAS to publish a reproduction of the Mates directory.

You can fully understand why, because the advertisments provide a fascinating glimpse of York in Edwardian times. Some of the names featured on these pages are still well-remembered by the people of York today - Terry's, of course; J Backhouse & Son; and Isaac Walton & Co.

Others are less well known now. Have you ever heard of Prof Lewis E. Mason? He had a music studio at 99 Micklegate, York, where he taught lessons on the zither, guitar, mandolin and banjo. A photograph shows an elegantly-furnished music room, complete with harp, piano and other instruments. Prof Mason also seems to have sold musical instruments. He was, the advert boasts, the 'sole agent in England for Herr Kochendorfer prize medal concert zithers'. Now that's a claim you don't see being made too often...

Stephen Lewis