THE WRITER William Camden in 1586 described Northallerton as "nothing but a long street; yet the most throng Beast fair upon St Bartholomew's day, that ever I saw."

The history of the town from then until now forms the backdrop to an Ordnance Survey map of Northallerton dating from 1911 that is published this week.

The map includes a contemporary directory that is a great "who's who" of Northallerton in 1911, and also a short history of the town by Mr Alan Godfrey.

Mr Godfrey looks at the major features of the town and examines whether William Camden's statement still rang true at the beginning of the 20th century.

The history of the prison, as the dominant structure in the town's landscape, is dealt with in detail.

Built on a rubbish dump, it opened its gates in 1788, but by 1848 overcrowding was a serious problem. There were 298 prisoners to 68 cells, meaning the chapel and the corridors were being used as makeshift dormitories.

So the prison was rebuilt along the Pentonville principle in the 1850s. The new building contained 173 cells for men, 60 for women, a treadmill and a hospital.

It closed in 1922, but was taken over by the army in 1939 and used as a training depot for military police - the trainees sleeping in the cells. Later, during the Second World War, it became a military detention centre, then after the war it re-opened as a prison.

Mr Godfrey's essay also provides an insight into how modern developments destroyed some of the town's most interesting features.

The famed livestock markets noted by William Camden in the 16th century were still as strong in the late 1800s, but were starting to cause real traffic problems on the high street.

Atkinson's auction mart was opened near the railway station in 1873, taking the strain off the high street. It was followed by Malpas mart in 1882 and Applegarth mart in 1907.

The removal of the livestock trade from the town centre led to the demolition of the old butcher's shambles in the high street. The town's market cross and toll booth were sold off, to be replaced by a town hall that Mr Godfrey calls "quite staggeringly ugly".

While much of what is today housing developments are just open fields on the 1911 map, the housing that existed then was by no means spacious.

A large part of the population lived in cramped conditions in yards sited just off the high street, which were demolished in the slum clearance programme of the 1950s.

Tickle Toby yard in the 1900s boasted stables, houses, an early fire station, slaughter houses, privies, a dung heap and a graveyard.

The biggest feature on the map that is no longer there was the Miles Sykes linoleum factory on Romanby Road, which at one time employed 200 people.

Another lost feature is the racecourse at the south of the town, which opened in 1765.

But it was gradually squeezed out by the land-hungry railway station and the new auction mart. The last race there ran in 1880 and the only remnant of its existence in the town today is Racecourse Lane.

The decline of the racetrack left a prime site for redevelopment at the southern end of the town, and this was partly filled with two new public buildings.

County hall, designed by Walter Brierly, would still have looked fresh when this map was produced, as it was built in 1906. Next door, a new police headquarters was completed in 1910.

The defining features of the town today were nearly all in place by the time the Ordnance Survey came by in 1911. The map and its accompanying essay show the origins of the most striking buildings in Northallerton and give a fascinating insight into what went before.

Northallerton 1911, the Godfrey Edition is published as part of the Old Ordnance Survey Maps series, priced £1.95