TALK about a sea of humanity ...

The massive crowd thronging St Helen’s Square in 1907 in the old photo at the top of this page was there to celebrate Military Sunday. The enormous popularity of the event demonstrates just how much affection the people of York felt for the city’s military garrisons in days gone by.

The photo, which comes from Explore York’s wonderful Imagine York website, also shows just how narrow St Helen’s Square once was.

Harker’s Hotel, clearly visible in this photograph, was demolished during the widening of the square a couple of decades or so after this photograph was taken.

As explained recently by reader and local historian Peter Stanhope, the hotel was named after the landlord Christopher Harker, and gave its name to modern Harker’s Bar.

Here are a few more photographs from Imagine York...

An aerial view of York dating from the 1910s

York Press:

The prison and castle walls are clearly visible in the foreground and Bootham Crescent is still a cricket field. But Merchantgate can be seen. It was created in 1910, so helps date the photo.

Cumberland Street in 1892 after 40 hours of rain had caused serious flooding

York Press:

The building shown on the right of the photo was occupied by the York Incorporated Church of England Sunday School Committee. On the opposite corner is the mineral water works of RA Wright.The warehouse straight ahead, meanwhile, was on Queen’s Staith and was occupied by Varey and Sons who were dealers in ham, bacon, guano, oil-cake and seed.

A horse and cart being driven along Bootham in 1897

York Press:

The flags and bunting decorating the street were for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The street opening to the right is Gillygate.

The interior of St Olave’s Church on Marygate in the 1890s

York Press:

Scarcroft Road looking towards Bishopthorpe Road in the early 1900s

York Press:

The horse drawn cab is just passing the junction with Upper Price Street.

Members of the Boy’s Jovial Club, which was attached to the Unicorn Inn on Lord Mayors Walk, photographed in August 1919

York Press: You might be forgiven for thinking from the expression on some (not all) of the faces that the club was misnamed ...

  • All these photos, and thousands more, are held on Explore York’s wonderful Imagine York archive. You can browse it yourself for free just by visiting