Clements Hall
Bishophill book cover crop for website

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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Keeping our local history alive

Clements Hall

For the past few months the lockdown has stopped us from carrying out our normal programme of history talks. It’s unclear when we'll be able to present these in Clement’s Hall in the near future. But we do know that there are lots of people interested in our local history, with probably a bit more time to explore online aspects that appeal to them.

As an experiment, last week we staged our first online talk, using the video-conferencing application Zoom. Ian Tempest told us about industrial York in the late 19th century, focusing on Clementhorpe. As well as Terry’s of course, there were other confectionery manufacturers, there was a firm processing guano, there were boat builders and brewers and many more. He was able to base it on research carried out by our members John Stevens and Mave Morris, but set it in the wider context of what was happening in York at the time. You’ll be pleased to know that you can access all of this very detailed research on our website here. We’ve already had some positive feedback about this experiment, including people who said it inspired them to go for a walk around Clementhorpe – great!

The invitation link to the Zoom talk was offered only to current members as an experiment. We would like to carry on, while we're aware that using technology is not easy or accessible for some. But we know many more people are now using Zoom to talk to their friends and families. If we did offer more talks this way then we would also try to help people (at a distance) who might encounter difficulties with sound and/or audio, depending on their computer or tablet. 

We may also offer the talks to a wider audience, subject to some sort of small donation scheme for non-members, to support Clements Hall. The Hall has been closed to normal hirers now for some time in the crisis, as it’s operating as a community hub for local food distribution. They will be struggling for funds as a result.

So we’re currently planning more virtual talks and walks, with reminders on social media. We’ll try and offer support for beginners, and hope to be able to record these for our YouTube channel. In the meantime we’re also going to be using this blog to report on our latest activities and researches.

Our next online talk, by Elaine Bradshaw, will be on Friday 26 June at 7.30pm. In A loaf of the Parish bread: struggles with poverty in our area in the 19th century, reflected in a workhouse child, Elaine explores the life of Eliza Seymour, a ‘bastard orphan’ from our area. If you are interested in taking part, please contact us on and we can send you a link. The talk is free to members but we’ll be asking non-members for a small contribution to the Hall.


Current researches

Elaine and her colleagues are still researching for our Poverty project, using poor law records and the census, to investigate individual case studies from the mid 19th century around Nunnery Lane.

Susan Major and colleagues are working on the new book about the old shops and pubs of Nunnery Lane and Clementhorpe. The idea was to use the Trafalgar Bay as a local history hub, but as it is of course closed at the moment they are reliant on online resources. One interesting theme which has appeared, and relates also to the people identified in the poverty project, is the prevalence of cow-keeping as an occupation, in the terraced streets of Clementhorpe. At this time cow-keepers often kept their cows in cow-houses built on awkwardly shaped pieces of land in the middle of our terraced streets.

In a fascinating development about the Bishy Road shops, we discovered recently that the former MP Harvey Proctor lived locally when he was a child, in Scarcroft Rd, and went to Scarcroft School. More interestingly his father had a couple of bakers' shops in the 1950's, including one in Bishy Rd, which was the former bakers', now Evolve Hairdressing. In his autobiography Harvey describes the shops at the time, which is a wonderful find!

Our books are still on sale at Pextons, or by mail order (see here for price details).

In another piece of current research John Stevens is investigating the origins of our local street and building names.