Clements Hall
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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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Retail and Commercial Services

With urbanisation came a large number and variety of retail and service activities. Shops were concentrated on Bishopthorpe Road, but were to be found on virtually every street throughout the area. There were pubs and victuallers, and all the small food shops of the pre-supermarket age.

Ebor Street off licence

Pubs provided food and drink for the many hungry and thirsty workers. The most notable ones included:

The Navigation Tavern, sometimes known as the Navigation Inn, lay opposite Skeldergate Postern and near the ferry landing place. It was reported as being demolished at around the time the new approach to Skeldergate Bridge was built.

Reporting on the plans for Skeldergate Bridge, the York Herald of 13 June 1878 said that “On the Clementhorpe side of the river the Navigation Tavern and some cottage property has to be pulled down to make way for the approaches.”

The premises appear in trade directories dating from 1849 to 1879 under nine different proprietors. Sometimes they combined this role with other jobs – in one instance as a wagon maker, and in other as a coal dealer and weighing machine operator. The 1852 map shows a weighing machine next to the Inn.

No. 2 Bishopgate Street was the place of John Rolling, a beer retailer, in the 1879 directory of trades.

No. 16 Bishopgate Street, The Swan is still in business. This is a  classic street corner pub, featuring an original 1930s interior. It is on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pubs and is designated as a Tetley Heritage Inn.

Paul Crossman now runs The Swan, together with the Slip Inn, the Volunteer Arms and the Woolpack, formerly jointly with his well-known partner Jon Farrow who sadly died unexpectedly in 2017.

Freehold ownership of The Swan has changed over the years. It was owned by Tetleys until the 1989 ‘Beer Orders’ were brought in, which forced the big brewers to break up their estates. It was then owned by a ‘pubco’, Punch Taverns. This enabled these property-owning companies to exploit the ‘beer tie’ to compel their tenants to buy beer from themselves at increasingly inflated prices.

Paul Crossman became a committed campaigner for fairer terms for pubs and was one of a number of licensees heavily involved in the national ‘Fair Deal for your Local’ campaign, which won a big legislative victory in November 2014, when Parliament backed legislation on the tied pub sector with a statutory Pubs Code backed by an Adjudicator. This gave licensees the chance to challenge their tied deals for the first time, and enabled Paul to secure a new ‘free of tie’ deal at The Swan. Punch Taverns then sold the freehold ownership to Heineken UK.

The Slip Inn, St Clement’s Place, was also a beer retailer. In some documents it is mislabelled as ‘Ship Inn’. In 1843 and 1849 it was run by John Rolling, who apparently also made nails. He was still there in 1872, also running a shop at 41 Skeldergate, and in 1879 running a beer retailing business at No. 2 Bishopgate. In 1861 the building next door was a greengrocers, run by another man called Rolling. In 1902 the Slip Inn is recorded as belonging to the Tower Brewery Co. of George Street, and as having been recently rebuilt.

Over the years the Slip Inn seems to have had a rather lively history. On 16 November 1883 the York Herald reported that George Stockdale, landlord of the Slip Inn had been summoned for serving intoxicating liquor to a police officer whilst he was on duty. 

The Slip Inn on Clementhorpe was founded in 1840. The Inn survives to this day. The premises incorporate a cottage to the rear, which was once part of the Boat Yard.

Clementhorpe Slip 1

(Photo: Hugh Murray)


(Photo March 2018 John Stevens)Slip Inn with Coop bacon and pie factory next door 1984

The Slip Inn. The adjoining building belonged to the Co-op, and is thought to have been the bacon and pie works (Photo by Rob Stay, 1984)

Slip Inn

The name of the pub reminds us of the importance of the boat building industry in the area, and the presence of the old slipway. The sign painter seems to have got a bit carried away as the sign appears to show the launch of a battleship rather than an Ouse barge! (Photo by John Stevens, June 2018)

The Barge floating pub 1984, with Terry's in background and CooJust a quick footnote to Clementhorpe’s drinking history... The short-lived ‘Barge Pub’, a floating bar converted from an old barge, was moored on the Ouse at Clementhorpe.  (Photo by Rob Stay, 1984)

CLEM - The Barge Sunk (Below) It sank in 1985 (Photo by York Press)

At the time of writing Bishopgate Street also includes:

  • 1 BishopgateHouse, Crease Strickland Parkins, Architects

  • 16 The Swan Inn

  • 23-24, Bishopgate Antiques & Reproductions[1]


Bishopgate House, built around 1860. Recently occupied by a firm of architects, and Listed. (Photo by John Stevens, April 2018)

Terry Avenue has:

  • The Caravan Club – site and services for caravans, motorhomes and trailers

  • Waterfront House – self catering for visitors in addition to apartments

Bishopthorpe Road (east side) has (as of June 2018):

  • 2-4, The Angel on the Green – restaurant and cycle repairs run by Cycle Heaven

  • No 6, Fruitique and Debbie’s Flowers – fruit, veg and flowers

  • 8, Rainbow House – Chinese food

  • 10, M&K Quality Butchers Ltd.

  • 12-14, Costcutter – mini supermarket

  • 1 Ebor Street, The Fisherman’s Wife – fish and chip restaurant

  • 16, Evolve – hairdressing

  • 18, Bishopthorpe Road Pharmacy – chemist

  • 20, The Good Food Shop – delicatessen

  • 30a, Stanley & Ramona – café

  • 1, Vine Street, Setting the Scene with Flowers - flowers

  • 46, Lanamiche – beauty salon

  • 74, Alexander House, guest house


Here is Bishopthorpe ‘Bishy’ Road on a sunny day. Pextons Ironmongers in the foreground. (Photo by John Stevens, June 2018)

Other businesses

  • Clive Hartley Motors, vehicle repairs and servicing, 10a Darnborough Street

There will be other businesses run from houses in Clementhorpe, but we cannot provide any details here.

[1] Up for sale at the time of writing.