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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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Later Nineteenth Century Industrialisation of Clementhorpe

By 1850, to the north of Clementhorpe [the road] some housing had been built on the Bishopgate Street and Clementhorpe frontages. Industry had started to set up along the River Ouse frontage. In the far north lay the Skeldergate Ferry, the means by which the Ouse was crossed prior to construction of the Skeldergate Bridge in 1881.

By 1851 and 1855 Trade Directories suggest that there were at least 10 Clementhorpe traders and professionals:




Thomas Hudson

Ship & boat builder; Slipway

Thomas Green

Collector/agent, Ouse Navigation Company

John Harrison

Tea dealer

William Hayes

Joiner and builder

Thomas Nicholson

Corn merchant

John Lawson

Flax spinner and shoe thread manufacturer

R. H. Nodding & Company

Flax merchant and shoe thread manufacturer

Scarr, Fletcher & Company

Landlord; the Slip Inn

John Watson

Boat builder

Mary Wray

 The 1851 Directory also describes the work of the Skeldergate ferry, linking the two banks of the Ouse. Interestingly, Clementhorpe is described as ‘Clementhorpe without Skeldergate Postern’[1].

Contemporary newspapers provide some further snippets of information which help develop our picture: On 15 August 1846 the Yorkshire Gazette reported that a license was granted to Henry Mayfield of Clementhorpe, “to run two hackney carriages.”

  • On 13 March 1847 the York Herald recorded the death of Richard Wray, boat builder, aged 48. “He was highly and deservedly respected by all who knew him.”

  • Perry’s Bankrupt Gazette of 5 February 1848 lists William Wilson, innkeeper of Cherry Hill.

  • On 7 June 1851 the York Herald announced the birth of a child to Mary Ann, eldest daughter of the late Richard Wray, boat builder.

  • The 3 October 1851 edition of the Royal Cornwall Gazette described the discovery of a Roman pavement by workmen employed on making a sawpit in a field at Clementhorpe.

  • On 8 October 1853 Perry’s Bankrupt Gazette reported that John Lawson of Clementhorpe “bone and manure dealer” had gone bust.

  • Reporting a legal case on 20 August 1859, the York Herald reported the plaintiff as one “Mr Thomas Dixon, guano merchant[2] of Clementhorpe.”

Captain Tucker of the Royal Engineers surveyed York in 1849-1851 for the Ordnance Map Office. The resulting map (see below) covers Clementhorpe, and indicates where some of the main industries were located. It shows:

  • Between the Dye Works and Clementhorpe [the road] there are two sets of industrial buildings. One is a timber yard, as evidenced by a saw pit and stove – the latter commonly used for burning the unwanted scraps of wood and bark. The other premises, of unknown use, lie on the site of what was to become the York Equitable Society’s depot.

  • Clement’s Church – on the site of the old nunnery – where Lower Darnborough Street now runs.

  • On Clementhorpe south side there are a number of unlabelled, but clearly industrial properties. The line of the Nunnery Wall is marked.

  • On Clementhorpe north side, the dwellings and workshops of St. Clement’s Place are clearly marked, together with The Slip Inn and the shipyard (‘Slip’) with its smithy, furnace and crane. The small bridge over the slipway is marked as ‘draw bridge’.

  • North of the shipyard and off what is now Terry Avenue, Tucker marked the Clementhorpe Brewery. Behind it lay the Clementhorpe Thread Mill and, to the north, lay the premises of the Bone Mill. On the farthest north point we can just make out The Navigation Tavern. Alongside the Tavern is a weighing machine and, just to the east, lies Skeldergate Landing and the ferry stage. The modern, realigned Bishopgate Street ran through the site of the Inn and the adjoining school.

  • The modern Terry Avenue is labelled ‘Towing Path’ on Tucker’s map, suggesting that barges could be hauled along the river.

1852 OS map new version

(Source: OS Open Maps[3])

In 1852[4] we would have been able to see the development of industry north of Clementhorpe [the road]. At the northern apex lay the Navigation Inn with, to its immediate west, the Church of England Board School. Moving south along the River frontage, we could see what appeared to be a group of small workshops, a Bone Mill, Clementhorpe Brewery and a boat building Yard. The latter occupied the area inland as far as the Slip Inn. The slipway could be clearly seen, together with its smithy. A small bridge ran over the eastern end of the slipway, connecting the two stretches of waterfront. Inland from the brewery were the substantial premises of Clementhorpe Thread Mill. Almost opposite where the Blue Bridge now stands, lay the Clementhorpe Dye Works.

Most of this commercial and industrial activity was carried out on a small scale. Local markets were supplied by horse or water. Raw materials were brought in by water, and later by rail. The attraction of a frontage on the Ouse is quite obvious – boats could be moored at wharves right outside the industrial premises. However, the importance of access to water for many of the processes located here, especially in the steam age, should also be borne in mind.

The map below is roughly contemporaneous with Tucker’s map. It shows many of the essential industrial features of the time.

1853 OS map new version
(Source: Library of Scotland, Ordnance Survey, Yorkshire sheet 174; Surveyed: 1846 to 1851; Published: 1853)

A horse trough in Bishopgate Street reminds us how important horses were in the economy of the area into the early twentieth century. This is dedicated to Henry Richardson, the owner of the nearby tannery. Former horse and cart openings can be spotted throughout the area, for example in Vine Street. These have mainly now been developed for mews housing. Incidentally, the boot scrapers at the front of some local houses hint at the state of the roads at this time.


A reminder that business was dependent on horse power until well into the twentieth century. A 1905 horse trough on Bishopgate Street reads “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast”. (Photo by John Stevens, April 2018)

Susanna Forrest writing in The Age of the Horse[5], gives us some idea of the impact of the use of horses on employment  “…from mews, coach houses, jobmaster’s stables, fodder merchants, knackers, harness makers, smiths, wheelwrights, whip makers, lorimers [a person who made bits, spurs and similar small metal objects], rat catchers, tanners, makers of straw sun hats for horses, strappers who specialised in vigorous grooming, ostlers at inns, riding masters, horsebreakers and common or garden grooms.”

“Horses were as ubiquitous in the nineteenth century as cigarettes were in the twentieth and some saw them as no less a threat to public health.”[6] Cities were noisy and smelled awful.

Between 1851 and 1910 the Clementhorpe area became urbanised. In the early stages, between 1851 and 1864, speculative housing developments were built by builders such as Richard Darnborough and William Coulson. This was concentrated in Clementhorpe [the road], Darnborough and Vine Streets.

In the second, most prolific, stage of development, between 1865 and 1885, houses were built in the Ebor, Lower Ebor, Cherry, Charlton, Anne, Fenwick, Lower Darnborough and William Street area. These were houses for lower-paid, unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Many of the occupants worked on the River and the industries that had developed along the River frontage. These included Terry’s Confectionery and St Clement’s Glassworks and, further to the south, the York Confectionery Company.

The County History of York describes how “the skilled railway workers and clerks who formed the other main class of immigrants became the backbone of this class of prosperous artisans. They lived not only alongside the poorer classes in The Groves and Clementhorpe, but in their own colonies near the railway works, out along the Holgate and Acomb Roads.”

The County History continues: “In some of these households there were lodgers and a servant was kept; in some drivers' houses there was a servant even though no lodgers helped to augment the family income. It was for this section of the working classes that the York Equitable Industrial Society (later the Co-operative Society) catered from its foundation in 1859; its sales in 1861 alternated in successive weeks between £145, £97, £133 and £82, these alternations 'being due to the fortnightly pay at the railways works', and its first suburban branch was opened in Holgate Road in 1889.”

Contemporary press cuttings provide a brief glimpse of industrial activity:

  • The Shields Daily Gazette of 2 March 1870 listed Mr John Proctor of Clementhorpe, a tanner.

  • On 20 May 1871 the York Herald reported the case of David Birch, a coal dealer from Clementhorpe, for “having offered for sale ten bags of coals, the whole of which were deficient in weight.”

  • On 1 March 1873 the Wrexham Guardian and Denbighshire and Flintshire Advertiser published a letter to Mr J. H. Calvert of 2 Clementhorpe, providing a testimonial for his pig powders.

  • On 7 January 1874 Mr David Birch, coal dealer with premises in Clementhorpe appeared in court offering evidence against one of his employees who had been accused of pilfering.

The third stage of housing development took place after 1885. Small areas were in-filled, including Board, Teck, Carl and Lovell Streets and individual plots on Lower Ebor Street. From 1900, Colenso and River Streets were built on the disused St Clement’s Glassworks site.

Anyone who has read Sherlock Holmes can picture the scene in the later years of the nineteenth century. There was almost no electricity – all the heating was by means of coal, and lighting by gas. There were almost no cars. All the transport was by horse or boat, or perhaps by train or bicycle. Only later did motor charabancs and lorries arrive.

Clementhorpe - Painting 3

This view shows how bustling the river and its banks must have been. The painting looks north-east towards King’s Staith, but the Skeldergate Ferry landing is in the foreground. (York from the New Walk, by William Boddy, c.1880. Now in the ownership of York Museums Trust).

Once again the contemporary press reports provide some interesting details:

  • On 13 November 1883 the York Herald described how an aspiring local politician visited the premises of the York Manufacturing Confectionery Company and Clementhorpe Glass Works to address the employees.

  • The 6 October 1888 edition of the Yorkshire Gazette reported the sudden death of Joseph White, aged 39, innkeeper and coal dealer of Clementhorpe.

  • On 12 July 1893 the Yorkshire Evening Press advertised a cowhouse and stable to let, adjoining The Swan.

  •  The 2 September 1898 edition of the Yorkshire Evening Press reported a resolution of the Sanitary Committee of York City Council to support the granting of a slaughtering licence to the York Equitable Industrial Society. It had previously been refused.

  • On 7 July 1900 the York Herald reported a court case involving James Lostler Morrison a Turkish bath proprietor and boot and shoe dealer of Clementhorpe. He was declared bankrupt.

The following extract from the 1885 Directory of York gives us a flavour of the jobs and trades of local people at this time:

Bishopthorpe Terrace

W.E. Pears

Swan Inn

R.D. Summers

Staircase maker

Charles Kendall

Wood turner

William Harbottle


Mrs Mary Remmer

General shop

James Cartwright


Mrs Elliott


William Charity


John Hansell

Railway shunter

Mrs H. Ewing


Robert Long


St. Clement’s Place

Miles Hopwood


John Aitchison


William Kendall


William Gibb


James Horne


John Smith


Mrs J. Fletcher


Mark Shaw


Henry Backworth


James Gill


George Paley


Mrs Deacon


Mrs M. Allison




Albert James Waite


St. Clement’s Square

Charles Green


John Burrell

Comb maker

George Green


Mrs E. Oswick


Mrs Mary Hurtler


Mrs E. Pritchard

Wardrobe dealer

Frederick Barker


Richard Jagger


Mrs M. Kennedy


William Henderson


Samuel Edwards


Mrs Crewton


Skeldergate Postern

Henry Richardson & Co.

Agricultural merchants

Joseph Terry & Sons

Whole manufacturing and export confectioners

Charles Verity

Shipwright, Corporation slipway


York Cattle Spice & Chemical Manure Company

Lion Mills

Joseph Wray

Boat builder

Henry Bradley

Railway joiner

John Forden


John Stockdale


James Keen


Frederick Stockdale


St. Clement’s Glass Co.

Registered office

Arthur Severs


James Hearn

General shop

John Crosby


Fred Hope

Coal dealer and Slip Inn

Frederick Dixon


Charles Barnett


Charles Bradley

Sugar boiler

Francis Grant

Comb maker

George William Broughton

Railway fireman

George Karbet

Engine driver

Joseph Kendall


William Cammidge


William Helstrip

Chair maker

James Benson


John Smith


What was going on around 1900?

Queen Victoria was still on the throne, and the Second Boer War was under way. The Labour Party was founded.

In York, gas was being challenged by electricity as a source of lighting and heating. Seebohm Rowntree published his study of poverty and living conditions in York. By this time, the North Eastern Railway employed 5,500 men, half of them in the carriage works, and was the largest employer in the City. Other sectors that had seen significant growth were confectionery and flour milling. By 1901, confectionery employed 1,994 people. Most businesses remained fairly small in size.

The two maps that follow are based on the Ordnance Survey plan of 1892 (OS Crown Copyright Reserved). They show most of the main features referred to in the following text.


This map of northern Clementhorpe shows the Chemical Manure Works, the Confectionery Works with its wharf and the Boat Building Yard with its Slip Bridge. Bishopgate Street and Clementhorpe [the road] are clearly marked, together with Skeldergate Bridge.


This map of the southern part of Clementhorpe shows St. Clement’ Glass Works, the Maltings on Lower Ebor Street, together with the Rope Walk and Timber Yard on the Ouse bank.

If we were able to wander the streets of Clementhorpe in 1891[7], we would have seen that Skeldergate Bridge had been constructed. The Navigation Tavern had been demolished. The Bone Mill had now evolved into the Skeldergate Bridge Chemical Manure Works. To the south, a wharf had been constructed at the River’s edge. St Clement’s Brewery and the Clementhorpe Thread Mill had been replaced by the new premises of Terry’s Confectionery. The Boat Yard was still operating and the Slip Inn on Clementhorpe [the road] could clearly be seen. To the south of Clementhorpe [the road] lay the extensive premises of St Clement’s Glass Works.

To the south of the Glass Works the area appeared largely open but partly in industrial, and possibly allotment, use. A Rope Walk lay along its western edge, and in the south east there was a building where the Dye Works had been located. Along the southern edge of this site a long thin strip of land served as a Timber Yard.

The York Confectionery Company’s Nunthorpe Peel Works lay at the southern end of what is now the continuation of Fenwick Street.

The 1895 edition of White’s Directory of York provides some insight into the jobs of local residents. As an example, in Lower Clementhorpe, i.e. east of Cherry Street, we have:

  • 7 Labourers

  • Milkman

  • Sawyer

  • Confectioner

  • Registered Office of St Clement’s Glass Works

  • Plumber

  • General shop

  • Foreman

  • Slip Inn landlord

  • Coal dealer

  • 2 Fitters

  • Sugar boiler

  • Comb maker

  • Railway fireman

  • Engine driver

  • Turner

  • Chair maker

In Clementhorpe [the road] itself, we have:

  • Mrs Annie White, victualler at the Slip Inn

  • Henry Connell, barge builder (also at Selby)

  • Edward Higham, pleasure boat builder and proprietor

  • William David Lund, rope and twine manufacturer and seedsman

  • Clement’s Glass Co. Ltd., manufacturer of medical bottles

  • Robert Long, baker

  • Albert Addyman, beer retailer

  • Joseph Terry & Sons, confectionery manufacturer

 Also in 1895:

  • At Skeldergate Bridge there is the premises of Henry Richardson & Co., chemical manure manufacturers.

  • In Cherry Street there is Robert Long’s public bake house[8], as well as a beer house, shop, and a stocking knitter.

  • Most of the other streets have an assortment of shops, including bakers, grocers, greengrocers, butchers, pork butchers and fish & chips, as well as chemists/druggists and beer sales.

  • Bewlay Street has a lady letting out apartments. Charlton Street boasts a dairyman and a cow keeper. Vine Street has a private preparatory school, as well as a coal merchant and a cab proprietor. Cow keepers also lived in Anne, Ebor, Charlton, Lower Darnborough Streets and Clementhorpe.

The keeping of livestock in residential areas added to the general stench and pollution, and was sometimes a cause of great concern. The Yorkshire Gazette of 12 August 1884, for example, described legal proceedings taken against Edward Hick for carrying on an offensive business in Clementhorpe, to whit keeping pigs. Notice was given “to remove swine from the same premises”. Whether this refers to the pigs or to Hick remained unclear! On 12 August 1884 too the Yorkshire Gazette contained a police report that the same Edward Hick was guilty of an offensive trade – boiling tripe without the necessary permissions. He seems to have been a bit of a menace!

Nineteenth century Clementhorpe must have been a very unhealthy place to live. The polluted air and water led to outbreaks of serious diseases. Many of the industrial processes were uncontrolled, not to say downright dangerous. Humans and animals living in close proximity can only have added to the general stench and danger. We can get some idea of the conditions by reading the contemporary press reports:

  • On 3 February 1866 the York Herald reported an outbreak of cattle plague in a herd belonging to Mr Charles Kendall of Clementhorpe. “Five animals remain affected with the disease and are under treatment.”

  •  The York Herald of 6 April 1877 contained a report by the Inspector of Nuisances. He had gone to a cowshed in Clementhorpe kept by the defendant “and there found a cow prepared for human food.”

  •  The 2 August 1892 edition of the York Herald reported that an inspection had established the insanitary condition of Clementhorpe Beck[9]. The Town Clerk was instructed to write to the York Confectionery Company requiring them to abate the nuisance.”

  •  The 29 August 1894 edition of the Yorkshire Evening Press reported “The water of Clementhorpe Beck again very foul and offensive condition. Liquid refuse from the York Confectionery Company’s premises (new part) still contributing.”

[1] ‘Without’ means ‘outside here’, an expression commonly used in North Yorkshire.

[2] Bird droppings used as fertilizer or chemical feedstock.

[3] Copyright of web version to parallel. See

[4] 1852 1:1,056 and 1853 1:10,560 Ordnance Survey Maps

[5] The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey through Human History, Susanna Forrest, Atlantic Books, October 2016.

[6] Eric Banks, London Review of Books, 5th July 2018.

[7] 1891 1:500 and 1892 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey Maps

[8] A public bakehouse was often used by people without ovens or where they could do their baking or seek the help of a professional baker.

[9] Clementhorpe Beck now runs, largely in a culvert, through Rowntree Park.