WHERE are the best surviving medieval alleyways in York? What is the city’s oldest surviving railway structure? And what did the Georgians ever do for us?

Find out the answers to these and lots of other questions on a series of free guided walks being laid on by York Civic Trust on Friday and Saturday next week.

Just like last year, the Trust will be setting up a giant marquee in St Sampson’s Square for two days - Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23. The marquee will be the starting off point for 24 free walks leaving every half hour throughout the two days. They include:

- a guide tour of York’s medieval shops, houses and alleyways with Dr Peter Addyman, York’s most celebrated archaeologist

- a ‘historic railways trail’ with Frank Paterson, taking in the city’s oldest listed railway structure

- guided tours of Georgian, Roman and Victorian York, walks of the city walls, a look at the legacy of 1960s brutalism on York, and much more.

The walks are only a part of what will be going on throughout the two days, however.

Just like last year, the marquee in St Sampson’s Square will be manned by Civic Trust staff, volunteers and board members, who will be on hand to explain about the work the Trust does.

With a desperate shortage of affordable housing in York, and with major developments being planned for York Central and the Castle Gateway area, it is work that has never been more vital, says Civic Trust chief executive David Fraser.

“Yes, we need houses that people can afford to live in,” Mr Fraser said. “We need jobs, and the offices and industrial spaces that make them possible. And we need to modernise, and keep up with the competition.

“But there’s a reason why York was recently voted the best place to live in the UK. It’s because, while continuing to develop and grow, we have managed to hold onto so much that makes York special.”

Over the last twelve months - and for many years before that - the Civic Trust’s 1,200 volunteers have been at the forefront of efforts to protect and celebrate York’s heritage, and to ensure that what makes York special isn’t lost in the rush to develop, Mr Fraser said.

The Trust’s work work in the last year alone has included:

• lobbying the city council on planning applications that threaten the city’s heritage

• running major public-participation workshops on issues such as the redevelopment of York Central

• maintaining and improving public spaces, buildings, statues and monuments through the Trust’s City Enhancement Fund.

• developing education packs for local primary schools which introduce young children to York’s history and heritage.

Last year’s recruitment weekend in the city centre saw something like 100 new members joining the Civic Trust. And many of them have been closely involved in the Trust’s activities over the last year, said Trustee John Vincent, the organiser of the two-day event.

“Those new members have already helped to make a real difference in York,” he said. “So if you care about York’s future, or if you’d like to get involved in sharing your love of the city’s history and heritage, why not come along to meet us during the recruitment weekend?

“We’ll be delighted to talk to you about the Trust’s work - and we’d love to welcome you as a member, so that you too can get involved in the fight to preserve York for future generations.”

* The York Civic Trust recruitment days will be held in St Sampson’s Square from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Friday June 22 and 9.30am to 3.30pm on Saturday June 23. Guided walks will leave every half hour from the Civic Trust marquee. Drinks and refreshments will be available. To find out more, visit www.yorkcivictrust.co.uk