Amberley's "Through Time" series offers a tried and tested formula in which a locally based author, or in this case authors, put together a collection of old photographs of a locality with their more modern counterparts for comparison, together with informative captions telling the reader what he or she is looking at, and, in many cases, explaining the significance of the the place and view.
Inverkeithing & North Queensferry Through Time by Eric Simpson & George Robertson applies this formula very effectively indeed. In part this is because the images are well chosen to illustrate interesting aspects of the two closely neighbouring settlements: and the modern photographs are nicely matched to their older counterparts, sometimes showing exactly or nearly exactly the same view and at other times taking a less restrictive approach where this illustrates a point well. So for example the photograph of the paper mill pipe band is accompanied by others showing the production process in 1993, long before the mill ceased operations and subsequently fell into disrepair.
But the main thing this fascinating book has going for it is that it covers an area that is full of interest and variety. Inverkeithing and North Queensferry are settlements with a long history that have changed significantly over time; that have been home to major industries such as paper milling and ship breaking; and which occupy a landscape whose very shape has been dramatically changed by quarrying. And all that is before you come to the thing for which this part of Fife is best known today, as the northern landing point of the two - soon to be three - Forth Bridges, which each resulted in a transport revolution and whose physical presence dominates the area.
The real joy of this sort of book is that however well you think you know a place, there are always surprises. A photograph of cars queuing for the ferry across the River Forth in the 1950s led us to the sudden realisation that the ferries had used the pier a few hundred yards to the west of the centre of North Queensferry and not the one in its heart. Obvious when you think about it: but it took this book to make us think about it...