The consultation on the three options for a proposed new access road into the huge York Central site officially closes today.

All three options - two of which would involve crossing onto the site from Water End, the third from Holgate Road - would have their problems.

The cheapest route, from Holgate Road, would go through Holgate Community Garden. Campaigners have also warned about the impact on traffic levels - and on pollution.

The second cheapest option would see a road crossing to the site from Water End across Millennium Green. The third route, also leading into the site from Water End, would see Millennium Green saved but would be by far the most expensive of the three options.

The York Central Partnership, which represents the various landowners with interests in the huge teardrop-shaped site, will have a tough decision to make, therefore - and whichever option it ultimately goes for (subject to planning approval) is likely to prove controversial.

The problems of developing the huge, 178-acre site won't end there, however.

York Central was where York's railway industry was born.

To developers, York Central is one of the largest brownfield sites in Europe - and the opportunity to build 1,500-or-so desperately-needed new homes, as well as offices, and new streets, shops and public spaces.

To those with a love of York's industrial past, however, it is a treasure trove of rail-related heritage. And they are keen that any masterplan drawn up for the development of the site should take that into consideration.

The industrial heritage of York Central was carefully inventoried by railway historian Dr Bill Fawcett. And last October Alison Sinclair, a retired English Heritage historic buildings expert who is now a member of York's Conservation Areas Advisory Panel, gave a presentation to the 2016 York Archaeology Conference which drew heavily on Dr Fawcett's work.

Here are some of the important buildings and structures she highlighted in her presentation...


York Railway Station

York Press:

Built in 1877 for the North Eastern Railway Company, the Grade II* listed station includes the original taxi kiosk from about 1900 and the art nouveau-style Station Tearoom of 1906. The main station concourse itself, with its curving plan and wrought iron and glass roof, was the largest station of its kind when built and remains today the 'most architectural of surviving contemporary railway stations in the UK,' Alison writes

North Eastern Railway Company goods station and weighbridge (now the National Railway Museum admin building)

York Press:

Built in 1877 and Grade II listed, the building is an 'almost intact example of an early industrial goods distribution system' complete with a weighbridge that 'probably most people don't notice', Alison writes.

Freightliner depot

York Press:

This was built in 1867 by the North Eastern Railway company to provide new shops for wagon-building and repair on what was at the time virtually a green field site. It is not listed, but the spread of railway infrastructure such as this across what is now known as York Central maps the development of the railway industry in York, Alison writes. The North Eastern Railway Company was formed in 1854 from the amalgamation of the York and North Midland with the York, Newcastle and Berwick railway. The new company's headquarters were in York, but it began to rationalise its workshop provision. Construction and maintenance work moved to Darlington and Shildon, while carriage-building and major repairs remained at York.

The 1867 wagon-building workshop is dilapidated and so at risk of demolition. "But consideration should be given to its retention and re-use for some kind of commercial or workshop purposes," Alison writes.

Network Rail's Holgate Depot

York Press:

Built in 1884 and 1886 as the North Eastern Railway Company's new carriage-building workshops and stores, these buildings continued to be used for this purpose until they were closed in 1995, Alison writes. They're now used by Network Rail, and are important as examples of York's heavy industrial past. "They also have high social significance for the many people in York whose families' livelihoods depended on the construction and maintenance of locomotives, wagons and passenger carriages," Alison writes.


The back of the Railway Institute gym and rifle range, with water tower

York Press:

The gym incorporates some of the original 1844 York & North Midland Railway wagon repair shop, which in 1884 became part of the Locomotion Erecting Shop no2.

The Grade II listed water tower and coke store beside the gym was built by the York & North Midland in 1839. It is the oldest surviving railway structure on the York Central site, and served as the prototype for later York and North Midland railway company water tanks. But it is in a 'shocking state' for a listed building, Alison writes, so could be at risk. "Vegetation grows out of the tank, which is itself rusting badly."

Autohorn Fleet services

York Press:

This was built in about 1874 as the Albion Foundry Casting Shop, together with the next-door Phoenix Foundry which was demolished in 2012. The Albion Foundry had moved to Leeman Road in the 1870s to support the expansion of the railway network, Alison writes. The former casting shop has "some architectural merit and was designed by a York architect, Charles Toft Newstead. It is of pier and panel construction, punctuated by elegant round-arched windows (now blocked)."


Original Albion Foundry office building and smiths' shop

York Press:

This was built in 1874 and is now disused. All the foundry buildings will be at risk, Alison warns, and their survival is questionable because of their derelict condition. "The gable end of the smiths' shop was originally open-fronted because it housed seven hearths. The buildings, together with others relating to the foundry...comprise a highly significant example of York's industrial history."

Marble Arch

York Press:

This was built in 1875, and while it is now 'much maligned', it served an essential purpose once Scarborough Bridge was strengthened following the construction of York's 'new' (present day) railway station. "When the Scarborough line was originally opened in 1845 it passed beneath Leeman Road, then still Thief Lane, which was carried over the railway on a road bridge. But the subsequent upgrade of Scarborough Bridge over the Ouse required the line to be raised thus creating the need for another railway bridge over what had been Thief Lane but became Leeman Road as railway development spread out into the green fields along its route."

National Railway Museum's Bullnose building

York Press:

Built in 1876, this was originally the North Eastern Railway coal manager's office, and later the locomotive superintendent's office. "A notable and conspicuous building...but seemingly disused," Alison writes.

National Railway Museum: original goods station stables

York Press:

Built in 1900. "Both the stables and the Bullnose building are of high historical significance as part of an important and almost intact example of an early industrial goods distribution system,"Alison writes. "The stables are a reminder of the long-lasting role of horses in the carriage of goods - and people - associated with the railway."

Queen Street Bridge

York Press:

Built in 1878 to replace an original level crossing on the approach to the old station, this has 'high historical significance as an early example of reinforced concrete construction, and some significance as evidence of the approach through an arch in the city walls to the first railway station," Alison writes.

Railway Institute

York Press:

This was built in 1889 as the new railway Institute and Works Mess Room on the site of the former Railway Tavern next to the original 1844 wagon repair shop (later relocated to Holgate Road).

The Institute has 'high historical and community significance as evidence of the railway company's concern for the welfare of its staff,' Alison writes. "It replaced a pub and provided non alcoholic refreshment for its members, and served the social and improvement needs of railway staff. It is still in much the same use today."

Alliance House

York Press:

Alliance House in 1996. Photo: Bill Fawcett

Built in the 1880s as the carriage works stores and offices, the building is now disused and neglected. It stands in the way of the proposed access road into York Central from Holgate Road, and permission has already been granted for its demolition.

However, a campaign has been launched to save the building. Ben Hall, chair of Friends of Holgate Community Garden, said: "Alliance House is still in sound condition... As a building, it has great potential as a mixed use community centre with office/ workshop space for start-ups and a heritage centre that could chart the importance of York's rail-building history."


The York Central Partnership, which represents the various landowners involved in the site - including Network Rail, City of York Council and the National Railway Museum - issued the following statement about the railway heritage of York Central:

“Heritage is an important consideration for the partnership as we continue to develop plans for the York Central site.

“Two of the key partners in York Central have fundamental commitments to preserving the country’s rail heritage. The National Railway Museum is the largest conserver of York’s, and the country’s, railway heritage. As steward of the rail infrastructure of the country Network Rail is well aware of the vast and varied historical and architectural heritage that it owns and always seeks ways to deal with its assets in the 21st century whilst at the same time keeping an eye on conserving its built heritage.

“From our 2016 consultation we identified a series of principles to inform our ongoing work for the York Central site, of which authenticity is one that relates to the retention of industrial and rail heritage.

“Work on the plans for the site is ongoing but we have always said that industrial heritage and the rail heritage assets that exist on the site will be reflected in the masterplan, including the retention of some buildings.”