WE take a trip back in time to Acomb in the first half of the twentieth century in Yesterday Once More this week, courtesy of a visit to our archives.

The name Acomb is thought to come from Old English, and to mean something like the 'place of the oaks'. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Achum or Acum.

Two photographs of Gale Lane, taken in 1923 and 1934 respectively, show that before the second world war it was still largely a rural community.

The caption to the 1923 photograph, which was taken looking towards Front Street, makes this abundantly clear. "On the right is a working farm, on the left agricultural cottages," it says.

There is a lovely description of the 'township' and parish of Acomb as it was in 1870-1872 in John Marius Wilson's 'Imperial Gazeteer of England and Wales.'

"Acomb, a township and a parish in York district, West Riding of Yorkshire," the Gazeteer records.

"The township lies two miles west of York, and has a post office under that city. Acres, 1,440. Population, 897. Houses, 195. The parish includes also most of the township of Knapton and part of the township of Drinkhouses (sic), and is traversed by the North-eastern railway. Acres, 2,273. Real property, £5,361. Population, 1,034. Houses, 226. The property is much sub divided. An eminence called Sivers' hill is traditionally said to have been the place where the body of the Emperor Severus was consumed to ashes... The church is old, but good. There is a Wesleyan chapel."

That 'Wesleyan chapel' may or may not be the same as the Methodist church in our photograph showing Front Street at the turn of the last century.

A group of children, wearing what looks like some kind of school uniform, stand on the sawdust-filled street in front of the church, apparently posing for the cameras. The caption to the photograph says they were waiting for a charabanc to take them on an outing.

By the time our second photograph of Front Street was taken, in 1958, the sawdust had been replaced by tarmac, and the charabancs by cars and at least one lorry: though the road still bore little resemblance to the busy street of today.

Other photographs show members of the Acomb cricket club, probably in 1920 or 1921, and children playing under the eye of nurses at the Godfrey Walker Home. This had been opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1911 at West Bank Terrace.

In 1946 the home moved to West Garth at 140 Acomb Road, where our photograph was taken in November 1948.

And finally, we have two photographs of a 'magnificent tree' which, in 1969 and 1970, caused a bit of a stir when it was made the subject of a tree preservation order.

The tree - a chestnut, not an oak - was on the site where a 'new working men's club', presumably the Acomb Working Men's Club, was being built. A preservation order was placed on the tree in 1969.

However, in 1970 a team of specialists was employed by the York Corporation to lop branches off the tree, which was considered to be in a dangerous position. The centre of the tree was then filled with concrete to make it safer.

"No architect likes to destroy trees," said Richard Swallow, one of the architects for the working men's club.

"But there are others on the site far more eligible for a preservation order. This one is not a particularly beautiful tree."

Well, not after it had been lopped and filled with concrete, anyway.

York Press:
MAGNIFICENT: 1969. A preservation order was made in 1969 for this chestnut tree at 12 Front Street, Acomb

York Press:
PRUNED: The chestnut tree on part of the site of Acomb Working Men’s Club in 1970