Fossgate & Walmgate

Fossgate & Walmgate


Fossgate & Walmgate

First published in Shopping in York

Historic Fossgate runs from Pavement down to the River Foss and the start of Walmgate. It was once known as Tricksters Lane after the unscrupulous traders who set up shop there.

It was also the home of the fish market in medieval times and the ancient St Denys' Church, off Walmgate, was known as the Fishmongers' Church.

Mysterious tunnels in Fossgate, discovered when a pub was demolished in the early 1960s, are now thought to be the Roman sewer system.

The Regency period Foss Bridge is virtually unchanged since it was built by Peter Atkinson the Younger. The first bridge there was probably wooden but was replaced in 1403 by a stone bridge.

This supported so many houses that it was said a stranger was unable to tell whether he was on the street or the bridge. This bridge, in turn, was replaced by the present structure in 1812.

A sea fish market was held on Foss Bridge in medieval times and the ringing bell, known as the Scatybell in the tower of St Mary's Chapel, signalled the opening of the market.

Fossgate leads into the busy road of Walmgate, which has undergone a revival in recent years as new shops have opened and businesses have moved out of the city centre.

In Victorian days Walmgate is reputed to have more pubs than houses, and was once again a haunt for unsavoury characters and poverty-stricken families, who lived in tiny hovels in alleyways off the street.

The farthest end of Walmgate leads to the Bar, which has been rebuilt over the centuries and is now the only bar in York to have retained its barbican. Walmgate is now the home of The Press, The Gazette and Herald and the Star Series' Head Office.

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