THE Castle Museum celebrated its eightieth birthday a few weeks ago. Excuse enough to go rummaging around in an old metal cabinet here at the Press in search of some photos from the museum's early days.

We found some beauties. There's a nice photograph from June 1964 showing the Eye of York from the steps leading up to Clifford's Tower. The old debtors' and female prisons which now make up the museum look very familiar - but there's a gap between them where the museum's 'new' entrance, built in the late 1960s, now stands. The Eye itself looked subtly different in 1964 to the way it does today: there was no tree in the middle of the grass, but there was a neat white signpost at the northern end of the immaculately-mown lawn. The resolution isn't good enough, sadly, to make out what it said: does anyone remember?

Fast forward to October 1969 and there is a nice photograph showing the timber roof of the new entrance/ concourse being fitted into place. There's also an interior view of that same entranceway soon after it opened, in January 1971.

Other photos include a 1988 image showing the ornate 'mural' painted on the glass of the entrance which used to greet visitors by boasting that the museum was 'England's largest and most popular museum of everyday life'; and a dramatic photo from April 1982 showing the refurbished wooden Dick Turpin, complete with gallows, who once showed visitors the way to the museum.

Perhaps our favourite image of all, however, shows York painter Bob Burbidge high up on top of the Debtors' Prison in September 1982. He is pictured gilding the weather vane on top of the prison's tower. In the distance you can see Clifford's Tower and, beside that and just behind the car park, cranes working on what would become the Coppergate Centre.

Stephen Lewis