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

This has been a remarkable year for the History Group. We had a very successful talk in the Hall in January 2020, attracting over 100 people, but by March we realised that we wouldn’t be able to carry on with our normal programme. All of our plans had to be changed, with talks and group walks cancelled for the year.

But we soon realised that, despite the pandemic restrictions, our members have valued being able to stay engaged with our local history interests and to keep up social contact. We discovered that many were using Zoom on their tablets and computers, often for the first time, to stay in touch with friends and family. We also have a good website, on which we can share our activities and news, and we make effective use of social media to keep in touch.


So we changed to Zoom talks, sending invitation links to members. We’ve offered four of these in 2020, a remarkable achievement, gearing ourselves up to this new technology and persuading speakers to use it, sometimes for the first time.

Our website

This year we’ve kept up a steady stream of blog posts here on our award-winning website. There were an impressive twenty-six blog posts in total, a real achievement. These covered a wide range of news updates and feature posts. We had local history quizzes and updates about our ongoing research into shops history and 19th century poverty. We launched our new lockdown walks, with press coverage. There were guest posts, one from Australia about local saints, and another from an A level student writing about the female penitentiary on Bishophill.

In November we were delighted to congratulate our film maker, Chris Maudsley, whose script, about 18th century York sedan chair workers, was performed in a BAFTA showcase on Zoom, by some very well-known actors.

Making Ends Meet on Nunnery Lane

York Union LedgersOur 19th century poverty research project, Making Ends Meet on Nunnery Lane, has been going strong this year, with many updates which you can see here. Using Poor Law records our group has been preparing case studies of local people suffering from desperate poverty at this time, offering glimpses into the lives of families and their survival strategies, and examining patterns of work in the streets. Railway work was really important to families here, and we’ve been looking at birthplaces to see from where people migrated.

Remembering Nunnery Lane and Clementhorpe

Nunnery Lane ca 1900We’ve been able to carry on researching the old shops and pubs of Nunnery Lane and Clementhorpe, for the next book in our series. (So far, many thanks to our local traders, we’ve managed to sell over 2,300 copies of our first two books). Sarah and Phil at the Trafalgar Bay have been brilliant as a local history hub for this project, housing our display there and hosting three successful history sessions at the pub. Sadly as they are ‘wet-led’ they have to close at the moment, but our researches continue.

We’ve discovered the sad tale of a famous sculptor living on Nunnery Lane, a boarding school where boys were promised a bed each, and a report of Nunnery Lane Feast in the 1840s, with prostitutes dancing upstairs at the Trafalgar Bay, to much disapproval from local magistrates. Hear about these and much more at our first talk in January.

Our lockdown walks

Walking appLockdown measures and other restrictions have encouraged us to find new ways of sharing our local history stories, in the face of closed venues. But luckily we’ve been able to adopt innovative ways of talking about our wide-ranging local history researches.

With help from our members we’ve created a collection of audio-guided history walks during the year. These are free guided walks on, an app which you can use on your smartphone, with earphones. You might choose to do a walk by yourself, or as a couple or a family, at a time when group guided walks are less possible. These are aimed at anyone with an interest in the area, and we’re hoping to surprise you with some little known features and facts.

They are A Walk around South Bank in York, The Changing Face of York, Bishy Road in York: a Shopping Street in Time, and Hidden Clementhorpe. All details here on our website.

If you prefer you can print these out to follow, rather than using a smartphone

How you can help in 2021

In 2020, we were only able to keep our heads above water financially by relying on the membership subscriptions collected at our first talk a year ago, in January. Since then, we have taken an annual subscription for Zoom software, to hold our talks online. We didn't charge members an additional fee for these talks. Although we benefit from hundreds of hours of volunteer time, we still have to meet costs for web hosting, Zoom, speaker fees and other small bits of admin.

This January we are therefore launching our 2021 membership campaign, to raise enough money to see us through a year when we might not have access to physical meetings at the Hall for many months.

Membership subscription and Zoom talk costs

We've decided to keep our annual membership subscription low, at £5 for the year.

Ongoing COVID restrictions mean that it’s unlikely we will be able to resume our meetings at Clements Hall any time soon, but we will continue to offer Zoom talks throughout the year (follow this link for details) We will be charging a small amount for these - £1 for members, and £3 for non-members - to cover our costs. 

How to pay

To renew your membership, please email us at for a membership form and return it to us. 

The easiest way for us to collect money from members for Zoom talks is for members to pay an extra £5 upfront for the five talks at the beginning of the year, alongside your membership. If possible use bank transfer, but we also accept cheques. We can then send out your Zoom talk invitations at the appropriate time. However, there is an alternative ‘pay-as-you-go’ option. If you wish to use this, you can pay your £5 membership subscription in January, then use PayPal to pay for each talk you wish to attend during the year. Follow this link for our PayPal page.

One-off donations

We congratulate our members on carrying out some brilliant and innovative work this year. If you would like to make a donation in support of the group's work, follow this link for our PayPal page.

If you want to get involved

You can of course just view one or more of our talks. But it may be that you are not able to access our talks on Zoom. We're also happy to attract people who might have an interest in a topic or be keen to learn new skills in exploring something relating to the history of our area. Skills might include:

  • talking to people about their memories

  • taking photographs of buildings and tracking down old photos

  • using old maps

  • looking at online sources

Drop a note in at Clements Hall if you wish to contact us and you don’t use email


Follow this link for our talks programme 2021. All talks start at 7.30 pm on Zoom, unless we tell you otherwise. We will send you an invitation link.