NO, this isn't Noah's Ark. It is a houseboat which broke free from its moorings on the River Ouse during the great floods of 1947 and was deposited in the middle of a field near Bishopthorpe.

According to Bygone Bishopthorpe, a new book from the Bishopthorpe Local History Group, the houseboat became something of a headache.

"The owner could not afford to have it moved back into the river so decided to stay put, causing all sorts of complaints to Bishopthorpe Parish Council," the book notes.

"The wrangling over the problem continued for several years and the issue was not fully resolved until 1953 when a demolition order was served on the owner."

Bygone Bishopthorpe runs to just 50 pages. But is is a fascinating little book nonetheless. It draws mainly upon photographs taken by Robin Armstrong Hill during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Hill, who grew up in the village before going on to work first at the Castle Museum in York and then as deputy curator of Edinburgh's city museums, used his camera to record views of Bishopthorpe and the nearby villages of Acaster Malbis and Naburn, capturing many scenes and buildings which have either vanished altogether or changed beyond recognition in the years since.

He famously once said that he 'never threw anything away' - which is how two albums of his photographs survived and eventually came to light in Scotland.

More than 40 photographs from those albums are brought together in this book, together with informed captions written by history group members.

Those captions really bring the photographs to life. The one accompanying a wonderful photograph of the chain-operated ferry which once crossed the River Ouse at Naburn, for example, gives an extraordinary summary of the history of the ferry crossing which manages to embrace the lives of Sunday worshippers, the problems faced by members of the York & Ainsty Hunt in getting across the river - and the snobbishness of a family of local gentry.

"On Sundays, many of the Naburn villagers worshipped in Holy Trinity at Acaster Malbis," it reads. "This (involved) crossing the river by the ferry. In the early 19th century, the site of the ferry crossing was a good way below Naburn and opposite the Ship Inn in Acaster Malbis. However, access to the ferry on the Naburn side involved passing close to Naburn hall, the home of the Palmes family. The family found this an intrusion and, in 1925, arranged for the ferry crossing to be moved upriver opposite Naburn..."

We only have space for five of the photographs here - including the ferry and that quirky one of the stranded houseboat. But they capture a time when the pace of life was less frenetic (if also more deferential) than it is today: and, we hope, give a good flavour of the book.

Stephen Lewis

Bygone Bishopthorpe, Acaster Malbis and Naburn, with photographs by Robin Armstrong Hill and text by members of the Bishopthorpe Local History Group, is published by Stenlake, priced £10.95. It is available from The Little Apple Bookshop, Fossgate Books or, on Monday afternoons only, from the Bishopthorpe Community Archive in the village hall, Bishopthorpe Main Street. It is also available from with an extra £2.00 for p&p.