MAXINE GORDON looks at how York celebrated the peace after the Armistice of 1918

YORK people celebrated all day and night on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.

After four long and brutal years of the Great War, they had plenty of reasons to salute the beginning of peace.

Workers in shops and factories were given the day off and parts of the city centre were decorated with bunting.

Around 10,000 were reported to have attended a speedily-arranged Service of Thanksgiving at York Minster.

A bugler from St Peter’s School played the Last Post.

Huge crowds gathered outside The Press offices in Coney Street to get their hands on the latest news. In his book, York in War and Peace, David Rubinstein describes how distribution of the special edition of the newspaper was delayed because of the huge crowds gathered outside the newspaper's offices.

People dressed up in patriotic colours and partied in the streets into the early hours of the morning. It was good natured – the police made no arrests.

The Yorkshire Herald reported: "Parties patrolled the streets singing patriotic songs and many street corners and open spaces were the rendezvous of speakers extolling the great triumph of this country and her Allies."

While the Armistice marked the cessation of fighting, it was the Versailles Peace Treaty the following year that marked the official end to the war.

And it was that summer that people took to celebrating in the street.

Street parties are a well-established British tradition nowadays – normally reserved for occasions of national importance (often to do with the Royal family in recent years).

But historians date the first street parties as we know them back to 1919 when ordinary people gathered in their finery to eat, drink and party together outside their homes.

York had a spate of these parties the summer after the Armistice. They were called "peace parties" and shared common features: people laid out tables and chairs in their streets, adults and children dressed in their Sunday best, and neighbours brought cakes, pies and sandwiches and drinks for one another to enjoy.

Bunting and flags were hung to decorate the streets. Sometimes, children wore fancy dress as one of our photographs today shows. This picture dates from August 27, 1919, and shows ten youngsters in Millfield Road, decked out in various costumes for a peace party.

Another picture today shows a party in Farndale Street which was sent into us by Mrs Valerie Ellison. The picture belonged to her mother who was six years when the First World War ended and lived in Farndale Street until the age of 11.

Scores of events will be taking place in York to commemorate 100 years since the Armistice, including a series of "Peace Teas" at Kirkgate in York Castle Museum, from November 5-11. Find out more: email –; telephone – 01904 687687, or visit: