TODAY'S selection of archive photographs comes from two books recently published by Amberley. Most of the pictures are from a book entitled Historic England: Durham, which contains photos from Historic England's archive, compiled by Derek Dodds. It is a collection of ancient and modern pictures which covers the whole county in its broadest sense, from Tees to Tyne.

Today's front cover shows an unrecognisable South Street in Durham, with Crossgate going off to the left. No buildings seen by the photographer survive to this day, although the streetline has been kept. Also, the kerbside drain seems still to be in the same position.

The signs on the wall point to a different era. On the right, behind the gas lamp, JG Brown is advertising that he is a grocer and provision merchant who also sells tobacco and cigars.

On the left, Henry Bone "late Melvin Bone" (presumably Henry is Melvin's son) advertises that he is a "mason, chimney-sweep and SMOKE CURER". What is a smoke curer? Does Mr Bone cure bacon by smoking it, or does he cure smoke problems by re-sealing chimneys?

The new book tells us that despite being steep, narrow and cobbled, South Street was once an important thoroughfare, and that in September 1825, Locomotion No 1 was hauled up the hill on its way from Forth Street in Newcastle, where it had been made, to Aycliffe Lane, near Heighington, where it was placed on the tracks of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

The second book is entitled The Lifeboat Service in England: the North-East Coast Station by Station, by Nicholas Leach. It comprehensively tells of all the stations from Berwick down to Skegness, outlining their histories and telling of their dramatic rescues.

The Historic Durham book is £14.99 and the lifeboats book is £17.99.