York has many lost churches. But perhaps the most famous of them all is St Crux. The church, which once stood on the corner of Pavement and Shambles, had a beautiful Italianate tower unlike anything else in York.

While the 'church of the saint of the holy cross' was actually mentioned in the Domesday Book, its tower wasn't that old. In 1736 the historian Francis Drake described it as 'new', while at the same time praising the 'handsome... steeple brick coined with stone.'

The church and its tower went through a decline in fortunes, however. The Victorians apparently considered the tower 'unsightly', and the church itself clearly deteriorated throughout Victorian times. By 1887, it was condemned as unsafe, and the decision was made to demolish it.

The demolition went ahead, despite objections from the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings. Ironically, a building which had been deemed a threat to public safety proved so hard to knock down that eventually it had to be dynamited, says Ian Drake of the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society, YAYAS.

Our first three photographs - which, like the others photos today, all come from YAYAS' extensive archive of old photographs - show the church actually in the process of being demolished in 1887. One shows the building still looking fairly substantial, but minus its tower. The other two photographs - including one actually taken inside the church - show it in a much more advanced stage of demolition. It has now been erased from the York streetscape almost altogether, with only the small church hall at the bottom of Shambles to remind us where it once stood.

Another extraordinary photograph from the YAYAS archive today shows three men labouring away on the treadmill in York's Castle Prison. There is no date on the photograph, but it was clearly taken some time before the prison was demolished in the 1930s. We think of a treadmill as being the most demoralising of all punishments - endless backbreaking labour for no result. Look carefully at this photograph, however, and you can see that this treadmill appears to be attached to a belt system, which may possibly be driving some kind of machinery or equipment. So perhaps there was some end product from this treadmill. The men working on it also look suspiciously well-dressed - the man on the right as you look at the photograph actually seems to be wearing a boater. So we wonder if more may be going on in this photograph than meets the eye. Any thoughts welcomed...

Two photographs from the early years of the 20th century show Clifford Street absolutely plastered in advertising posters. One has adverts for Reckitt's Blue (which 'makes the whitest linen', according to the promise), Bovril, Camp coffee, Dunn's Boots, Bird's Custard and various sporting events - including a York City vs Doncaster Rovers football match scheduled for September 3, 1913, which fixes the date nicely.

The other shows one wall of the magistrates court and what later became the fire station also smothered in posters, for everything from Arthur Ramsden's pianos and Halliday's dress and furnishing warehouse to Oxo, Vim and Turner's hats and caps.

Dr William Evelyn, the GP who became one of York's leading conservation campaigners, had a thing about the number of posters being allowed to deface the city's streets. You can see why from these photographs...

We save probably the best photograph of all, however, for last, however. This shows a view of the York glassworks, looking across the Foss basin from St George's Field. Again, there is no date on the photograph. We'd guess it to be the early years of the 20th century, but we're happy to be proved wrong if anyone knows differently.

Stephen Lewis

BLOB You can find out more about the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (YAYAS) and the photographic collections it looks after, by visiting www.yayas.org.uk