Clements Hall
Nunnery Lane book cover

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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Clementhorpe and Bishopthorpe Road


As with Nunnery Lane, this has no historic inns, rather a selection of beerhouses and fully licenced pubs, including two built in the 1930s.


Pubs location map

Pubs that remain

Slip InnThe Slip in Clementhorpe. This pub is first recorded in 1840, when it was probably a beerhouse. It was rebuilt around 1902 and is very close to the site of that vanished church where ale was probably sold in medieval times (the fragmentary remains of the associated nunnery are visible nearby). The pub was named because of a previously adjacent 215-foot-long double slipway, used for launching boats of a modest size into the nearby Ouse. You might think from the present sign that the 20,000-ton HMS Dreadnought was launched there, but the actual boats would have been on average around a hundred times smaller! The Chief Constable’s report of 1902 notes “Food supplied if asked for.” In 1883 the landlord was fined ten shillings (50p – or about £60 in today’s money) after his daughter served a police constable while on duty. I would have thought that the constable was to blame! This pub recently had plans to construct a micro-brewery, but it was decided instead to expand the pub.

The Swan in Bishopgate St. First recorded in 1856, when it was a beerhouse and a shop. By the end of the 19th century it was listed as a beer retailer and grocer, but at some point the whole premises became a pub. Sometimes it seems to have been known as The White Swan or The Swann (possibly just a clerical error). When the Tour de France passed by in 2014 in was briefly rechristened - Le Swan. In 1899 it was bought by Tetley’s Brewery in Leeds who remodelled the interior in the 1930s. That interior remains to this day and has been officially listed as of historic importance. Its features were also recognised by Tetley’s, who in the 1980s awarded it their ‘Heritage Pub’ status. A major feature is the drinking lobby, designed to accommodate stand up drinkers in the hall. Other features include a fine rather sculptural set of porcelain urinals. The Brewers’ Society in the 1930s remarked that the pub met their ethos for 'small intimate houses for the little street customers'. It remained a beerhouse until 1961. During the process of the interior being listed, the Heritage Protection Department noted in 2008 that the interior was “one of the best-preserved examples of its kind in the whole country.”

Knavesmire pubThe Knavesmire Hotel in Albermarle Rd. Built and opened in 1932, when a licence was transferred from a pub in the Hungate area. Building this pub was something of a landmark. It was the first pub to get a licence in the South Bank area, after many years of trying.  Previously the temperance movement had successfully blocked similar efforts. Owned until 1956 by the major York brewer J. J. Hunt, it initially and proudly advertised itself as being at the South Bank terminus of the then tram service, and no doubt did very well on race days at the nearby Knavesmire, after which it was named.

The Winning Post in Bishopthorpe Rd. A substantial road house built by John Smiths of Tadcaster. Opened in 1939, it was plainly designed and located to attract racegoers - recent works of renovation have revealed horse racing imagery and the pub’s name speaks for itself. Only the second pub in South Bank, it got its licence following the surrender of one at The Sportsman just down the road, in now vanished Caroline St. Now a popular food pub and venue for music and comedy it was reported in 2014 as being at risk of conversion into a small supermarket. Thankfully, it survives.


Pubs that have gone

The Navigation Tavern in Bishopgate St. It was there on the side of the Ouse by 1845, but was probably there before then. It lasted until 1881, when it stood in the way of building Skeldergate Bridge. Before the bridge was built, there was a ferry service across the Ouse, and I imagine that this pub attracted quite a few who used that ferry. Press records show that its proximity to the Ouse meant a frequent use for inquests into deaths by drowning and the last landlord went by the appropriate name of Mr. Boddy! One reported inquest was into the death by drowning of Robert Brigham, from Ganton near Scarborough. Inquiries revealed that he had first gone to Harrogate “for the good of his health” and had then been seen catching a train to York – a place plainly far less good to this end!

The Sportsman in the lost Caroline St. This street was in the now redeveloped area behind Bishopthorpe Rd. The pub was a beerhouse that served an essentially working-class area and is first recorded in 1860, around the time the housing was built. It was another pub where customers shared the toilets with the landlord’s family. It closed in 1939, with its licence transferring to the newly built Winning Post up the road.

The Ebor Vaults in Bishopthorpe Rd. A rather short lived beerhouse lasting only twenty-four years from 1872. Its name persuaded the nearby Ebor Inn to add ‘Old’ to its own name, to avoid any confusion. In 1896 the Ebor Vaults became an off-licence, one that remained open until the 1990s, after which it was incorporated into the next-door shop – now Costcutters.


Are these pubs?

Not sure it matters, but these two intimately connected businesses meet the general requirements for being pubs but without a building.

Flying DutchmanThe Barge on the Ouse along Terry Av. This was just as its name suggests, a converted floating barge. Described by Hugh Murray as 'an inn and night club', it was there from 1979 until it sank in 1984, to be quickly replaced by another converted barge. This one was called The Flying Dutchman. This latter barge only got planning permission for a year and when this was not renewed, the area’s floating drinks businesses came to an end.