There has been a big response to the photograph of a 'mysterious wooden structure' near York Minster which we carried in Yesterday Once More last week. And it is safe to say the mystery is now solved.

Several readers have been in touch to say that the timbers were the remains of a row of buildings (which seem to have been collectively known as Parliament House) which once stood in Pavement and which were demolished to allow Piccadilly to be opened up in 1912.

Despite having been demolished in the name of progress, the buildings were thought to be of real architectural interest. The timbers were therefore bought (initially by Frank Green of Treasurer's House), then saved and stored in the (ultimately vain) hope that the buildings could one day be reconstructed.

There's a passing reference made to this by Darrell Buttery in the book Streets of York: Four Centuries of Change, published last year. The row of half-timbered houses which was demolished included 'some of the last surviving elaborately carved medieval doorhoods that had once been so characteristic of houses in the city,' Mr Buttery wrote. "All the main timbers were saved, labelled and stored in a fenced compound below the east window of the Minster. Here they survived for years until the labels fell off and the decision was taken to consign them to a bonfire."

John Shaw of the Yorkshire Architectural & York Archaeological Society (YAYAS) actually managed to track down two local newspaper cuttings, one from 1907 and the other from 1955, which described the fate of the timbers in more detail.

"Rescuing a bit of ancient York," ran the headline of the first clipping, from 1907. The article beneath described the three old shops on Pavement ('York's oldest street') which had been singled out for demolition. "They are three-storeyed structures, each storey overhanging the other," the reporter had written. By 1907, when the article was published, the buildings were clearly already feeling their age. The reporter noted that the third floor of the shops had had to be propped up with stout posts, those 'ugly crutches of architectural old age'. Nevertheless, he added, 'these shops - relics of a stirring period in York's well-filled history - take on a picturesque appearance indeed as one walks up Parliament Street... But picturesqueness, say the authorities, cannot stand in the way of progress even in York, and so the old must give place to the new.'

Fortunately, the reporter wrote, the buildings would not be altogether lost. "The owners, Messrs Dove, have given Mr Frank Green of the Treasurer's House... the opportunity of purchasing the buildings. Accordingly, they are to be taken down and re-erected, exactly as they now stand in Pavement, on a site close to the old Minster gateway."

The timbers were kept in storage at College Green for decades. Several Press readers - among them Thomas Campion, David Poole and David McElheran - remember seeing them there when they were boys. Nearly 50 years after the buildings had been demolished, in 1955, there were still hopes they could be reconstructed - this time at the Castle Museum.

"York jig-saw of ancient timbers," ran the headline to the second of the local newspaper clippings dug out by Mr Shaw, which was dated September 5, 1955. The article rehashed the history of the 'pile of timber' that stood outside St William's College to that day, then continued: "Recently, the timber was bought by Mr JB Morrell, chairman of the York Civic Trust, to give to the city. Mr Morrell hopes that the timber might still be reconstructed, possibly as an entrance to the new extensions of the York Castle Museum."

Any attempt to reconstruct the buildings would pose a real challenge, however, the newspaper warned. "When Parliament House was pulled down, all the timber was carefully numbered and a key plan prepared. The plan has been lost, but it is doubtful if it would be of any use. All the beams were marked with zinc tags to beat rust, but the iron nails that fastened them in place have rusted away and the tags have fallen off." Anyone who attempted to reconstruct the buildings, therefore, would face the tricky task of trying to piece the timbers together without knowing what went where.

It never happened. and ultimately, according to Mr Buttery, the timbers were consigned to a fire.

The photograph of the timber sitting on College Green beneath a specially constructed roof remains, however. We have also dug out today (from Explore York's wonderful Imagine York archive) some photographs showing the original buildings on Pavement before they were demolished, as well as a couple of images showing the 'new' Piccadilly as it was knocked through to join up with Pavement and Parliament Street...

Stephen Lewis