LET'S take a tour in old postcards of County Durham in the company of local historian Araf Chohan. These postcards, which date from the first couple of decades of the 19th Century, are selected from Araf's new book, County Durham: A Rare Insight, which is published this week.

Araf's previous books have featured postcards of his hometown of Middlesbrough and neighbouring Darlington, but now he is branching out to take in the whole of County Durham. The book ranges from Annfield Plain and Chester-le-Street in the north down to High Coniscliffe in the south, and from Middleton-in-Teesdale in the west over to Easington on the coast.

Araf is a proud “smoggie”, having been born in the town in 1952 – his parents, from the Punjab in India, were among the first Asians to settle in the Boro in 1925.

The book, which is beautifully produced, is available from retailers like Waterstones and Amazon, and from the website of its Middleton St George-based publishers, destinworld.com. It costs £14.99 and postage from the website is £2.50 - a perfect County Durham Christmas present.

Today's front cover is a splendid postcard showing a group of all ages – from the snowy-bearded old man on the left to the young boy clutching a bag of goodies in the front – gathered in Durham Market Square beneath "t'man on t'hoss" – that's Charles William Vane Tempest, the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. The statue of the coalowner, who developed Seaham Harbour, was unveiled in 1861 and is still a controversial talking point to this day.