Clements Hall
Queen Victoria St  with tram

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York

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Decorating the Street

Our Bishy Road traders have worked hard to raise funds in the local community to enhance their Christmas display. But you might be intrigued to hear of something similar over 120 years ago, in a tale which includes the opening of a new library and even bridge tolls. Some things never change.

In October 1893 the city was celebrating a visit from the newly married Duke and Duchess of York (he later became George V). The couple were in York to open the new free public library in Clifford Street, now reduced to scaring visitors as York Dungeon, rather than enlightening local people. After lunch at the Guildhall the royal procession was to travel over Skeldergate Bridge, along Bishopthorpe Road and Scarcroft Road before returning to the Minster. The city even agreed to suspend the bridge tolls over Lendal Bridge and Skeldergate Bridge for two hours that afternoon, to mark the event.

Unfortunately there are no photographs showing our local shops at this time but the York Herald reported that ‘several tradesmen have vied with each other in adorning their premises for the occasion’, although sadly ‘the decorations were not numerous’. To be fair there were very few shops at this time, mostly on the east side of the road.

Mr George Pickering was the butcher at no 10 from 1885 until 1925 (where M & K butchers are now). He apparently had ‘a very neat arrangement in which jewel lamps and festoons of greenery are prominent’.

Mr Wells was the painter and paperhanger at no 12 (now Costcutter) from 1891, succeeded by his wife as ‘mistress painter’, before the firm moved to no 4 (now Cycle Heaven) in 1911. His decorations in 1893 included ‘a very pretty sign with a framework of greenery and jewel lamps’. His business was to be long-lasting, as it didn’t close until 1965.

Further decorations were noted at two beer retailers, Mr Charles Pinder at No 1 Vine St (now the florist Setting the Scene) and Mr T G Duckitt at no 14 (now Costcutter).

By way of contrast the shops on the corner of Scarcroft Road went to town with a royalist display. Messrs Hutchinson’s the grocers (now Sainsbury’s Local) and Dr Raimes from the surgery across the road (where the car park is now) stretched a length of crimson drapery across the road. This was emblazoned with an appropriate quotation from Shakespeare’s Richard III: ‘Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious by this sun of York’. They even had ‘a number of pretty bannerets and streamers’ hanging from the crimson drapery.

So our Bishy Road bunting and Christmas lights are not the first, and hopefully with more funding they will be even more spectacular than last year.