Our local shops are very important to us and play a major role in the local community. We’ve started to research their history, both on Bishopthorpe Road and the South Bank corner shops, using the census and 19c newspapers online and trade directories in the library.
The results are very promising, as a number of shop premises in Bishopthorpe Road have carried out the same type of business for over 100 years.
There are some interesting themes, for example the establishment of two Chinese laundries in the 1930s, the development of multiple chains owned by large companies, such as Meadow Dairy, and Eastman’s Butchers, which later became Dewhurst.
Many women shopkeepers are involved and the censuses also indicate that many traders were born elsewhere. Len Cundall at the Post Office was famous for his dance band in York. Some traders in the city centre appear to have started locally, for example Ward’s the Florist.
Historically there have been amazingly over 100 buildings/houses used as shops in South Bank, many corner shops but other terrace shops, and the shapes can still be seen in the brickwork.
We’re also planning to interview some local people about their experiences. It would be good if anyone else who is interested could join us – there’s a lot more to do, either at home on the internet, in the library looking at books or interviewing people within an oral history project. If you can help in any way or have photographs or information of interest, please contact Sue Major.