THERE has been a lot in the news recently about the decline of what was once York's 'golden half mile' for shopping - Coney Street and Spurriergate.

Poundworld in Coney Street and the Spurriergate Centre itself - or at least the café which has operated there for so long - are the latest victims of the downturn in fortunes.

The photographs on these pages today, however, date back to a time when Spurriergate's prospects seemed to be on the rise.

The time was the postwar late 1950s: and a whole row of shops on Spurriergate leading to the corner of High Ousegate were to be demolished, partly for road widening but also to make way for a new, modern block of shops.

Our photographs, all dug out of a dusty envelope in The Press' archives, show the whole process: from the original look of the street as it was in 1956, through the demolition process, to the gradual rise of the new, modernistic block of shops which had emerged by the early 1960s. Whether they were an actual improvement on what had been there before is another matter...

The demolition work at least briefly created new and unexpected views - for example, across to Spurriergate from Peter Lane. And given that the building site was so central, it is hardly surprising that for a while it became something of a tourist attraction in its own right. One photograph shows people on Spurriergate leaning on the railings overlooking the building site to have a good gawp at what was going on. People, eh?

Stephen Lewis