NOBODY living will have seen York's 'old' Ouse Bridge. There's a good reason for that. It was demolished more than 200 years ago - in 1810 - and replaced with the bridge we know today, which was completed in 1821.

There are good descriptions of the old bridge, however. It opened in 1566, to replace an even older one which had collapsed in the winter of 1564 as the result of snow, a frost, a thaw and a sudden surge of floodwaters.

The 1566 bridge, by all accounts, had five arches - the central one 81 feet wide and more than 17 feet high. There was a chapel - St Williams - on the western, Micklegate side of the river, which was next to the council chamber and what must have been a very damp city gaol.

There are no photographs of the bridge, of course - it was demolished too early. But there are a number of paintings showing what it might have been like. And there's also a wonderful sketch by the Victorian/ Edwardian architect and artist Edwin Ridsdale Tate.

Tate frequently tried to recreate scenes of York from before his own time - and this is what he clearly did in the case of his sketch of the old Ouse Bridge. But he'd have had descriptions and paintings to draw upon, plus his professional architect's concern for detail and accuracy. His drawing is therefore about the closest anyone living today will get to an idea of what the 'old' Ouse Bridge really looked like.

York Press:

'Old' Ouse Bridge by Edwin Ridsdale Tate. Image: YAYAS

The bridge in Tate's drawing is seen from the Micklegate side of the river. St William's Chapel is visible to the left, and there are barges moored both at Queen's Staith and on the opposite side of the river. In the distance, the Minster dominates the skyline.

The original of this sketch formed part of the collection of photographs and drawings bequeathed to the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (YAYAS) by the York doctor and conservationist Dr William Evelyn shortly before his death in January 1935.

It is one of a number of Tate sketches held in YAYAS' Evelyn collection - and one of many that will be used in an illustrated talk to be given by local historian Peter Stanhope at Bedern Hall next week.

Peter, who retired from running his own photographic equipment business 14 years ago, has been interested in Tate for more than 30 years - ever since, in the 1980s, he came across a print of Tate's extraordinary 'Panorama of York as in the 15th century' in the shop at York Art Gallery. Tate had been commissioned to draw the panorama for the 20,000th edition of the Yorkshire Herald in May 1915. It was a bird's eye view which attempted to capture Tate's idea of what York would have looked like in the 1400s.

Having seen it, Peter began researching the life of the artist - and discovered that he had been extraordinarily prolific. Tate was a York man who, during the course of his comparatively short life (he lived from 1862 to 1922) not only designed the Tempest Anderson Hall, but also recorded - in pencil and watercolour - many views and scenes in York which no longer exist.

During his years of research, Peter put together a digital archive of hundreds of Tate's paintings, sketches and illustrations, and even acquired a small collection of Tate originals.

York Press:

Marygate, York, as it would have been in 1850, by ER Tate. Image: Peter Stanhope collection

He began giving a series of popular talks about Tate and, a year ago, published "Quaint and Historic York remembered' - a book about Tate's life and work packed with the artist's sketches, paintings and postcards.

Next week's illustrated talk, which will help to raise money for the Company of Cordwainers of the City of York, will draw upon many of them to provide of a glimpse of a York that has not been seen for 100 years or more.

The Tate images Peter will talk about - some of which he has only recently and have not been shown in public before - include sketches of the Thursday Market in St Sampson's Square; the no-longer-existing Lady Peckitt's Yard; the old Malt Shovel Inn in Fossgate which was pulled down in 1906; and an extraordinary watercolour of Bootham Bar as Tate imagined it would have looked before 1831, when the barbican was demolished.

York Press:

Bootham Bar before 1831, by ER Tate. Image: Peter Stanhope collection

The view is from the outside, Bootham end of the bar, looking through the arch towards Petergate. The buildings on the left, including the Bird in Hand pub, were demolished to make way for St Leonard's Place and Exhibition Square.

  • Peter Stanhope's illustrated talk on Edwin Ridsdale Tate is at Bedern Hall off Goodramgate at 7.30pm on Thursday November 9. Tickets £10 in advance from Elizabeth Marshall, Chamberlain to the Company of Cordwainers of the City of York, on 01904 704589.

A second edition of Peter Stanhope’s book, Quaint & Historic York Remembered, is now available, priced £25 including P&P, directly from the author on 01904 760467 or, or from Fossgate Books on 01904 641389.