IN the days before photography, newspapers illustrated their stories with drawings, and how the artist must have enjoyed illustrating a story that David Walsh, in east Cleveland, has stumbled across.

The headline says: “Mania for driving trains. Insane girl’s exploits”.

But there was more to it than just that. The unfortunate Middlesbrough lass, who was only 17, had a penchant for taking to the footplate without any clothes on.

The report says that the “insane girl with a mania for running locomotive engines” was found on a footplate at midnight.

“She was nude, and was tampering with the levers while the engine was enveloped in clouds of steam,” says the report. “The policemen seized her and took her to the infirmary.”

In fact, three policemen, who were commended by the chief constable, were required to get a grip on her.

The report concludes: “Before this exploit the girl set a locomotive in motion in a Tees ironworks, and drove it a considerable distance until it came into collision with some waggons, causing £250 worth of damage.”

Just so that its readers got the full picture, the newspaper had its artist draw pictures of the naked girl causing mayhem on the footplate while enveloped in billows of steam until the bobbies wrapped her in a coat to save her decency and carried her off.

Which paper it was in, we don’t know. It appears to be a local publication, referring to Middlesbro’ and the Tees works, but The Northern Echo would certainly never have been guilty of such tawdry titillation.

The cutting is dated 1925, but by that time most newspapers had gone over to photography and reproducing drawings, however erotic, would have looked old fashioned.

If you have any clues, or any other stories about naked women driving trains, please let us know.