WE continue our journey upstream along the River Foss in old photographs from the Explore York collection today, as we promised to do in Yesterday Once More a week ago.

Last week we focussed on photographs of the lower reaches of the Foss, around the Blue Bridge and the Foss Basin. Today we move further upstream, through the semi-industrial Layerthorpe area and on to the quiet reaches of the river at Yearsley and Mille Crux.

We begin, however, with one more extraordinary photograph of the mouth of the Foss, where it meets the Ouse at the Blue Bridge - an area once known as 'Browney Dyke'.

The photo (photo No 1, if you're looking at the captions) was taken in about 1895 and shows a couple in sombre Victorian clothes (the man looks like a dead ringer for Charlie Chaplin in his shabby suit and bowler hat) standing on the Blue Bridge looking out over the Ouse. The winding mechanism of the bridge - used to raise it to allow barges access to the Foss basin - is clearly visible, as are the famous Crimean War cannon. A small sailing dinghy can be seen in the foreground, apparently veering away from the mouth of the Foss to sail up the Ouse. One man sits upright at the tiller, while another lounges back, clearly enjoying the ride.

It is a lovely photograph: but what makes it particularly important is the information contained in the caption. This reveals that there have in fact been five 'Blue Bridges' at this point, one after another. "The first bridge over 'Browney Dyke' on the Foss was built in 1738 and consisted of a wooden drawbridge which was painted blue and established the name for all its successors," the caption says. "This was taken down in 1768 and replaced with a stone bridge which was, in turn, replaced by a wooden swivel bridge in 1801 at the completion of the Foss Navigation."

The 'Blue Bridge' pictured on these pages, in a photo taken in about 1895, was actually built in 1857. The two cannon were taken from the Russians at Sebastapol and presented to the York Corporation. "These were mounted on stone plinths on either side of the bridge on November 5, 1858," the caption continues. "The guns were removed in 1941 as scrap metal for the war. The fifth and present bridge was built in 1929."

So there you have it: a neat, potted history of the Blue Bridge, all courtesy of this one photo and its caption.

Our other photos today show:

2. Bicycles are on Foss Islands Road (looking towards Layerthorpe Bridge) in about 1911. The photographer wrote: "The main thoroughfare connecting Layerthorpe and Lawrence Street. Observe kerb and ash footpath."

3. Foss Islands Road in the early 1920s. From left to right the premises are: W. Gray and Sons, who were poultry and pigeon dealers; J. Frame, who was a laundry foreman and lived at Melbourne House; J. Howden, a carriage builder living at Blenheim House; H. Barker, who lived at Avondale House (no occupation is listed); the York Corporation Electric Light Station (in 1921 the engineer was J.W. Hame); and a Corporation depot

4. Layerthorpe seen from Foss Bank in about 1933. The left hand side of the photograph is dominated by the gasometer and the right by terraced housing

5. This image shows Layerthorpe Bridge on January 23, 1954. The building on the left is J.H. Walker, coal and sand merchants. The buildings on the right are Adams Hydraulics on Peasholme Green

6. This man is probably with his daughter. They are pictured near Mille Crux on the Foss (now the York St John University sports ground off Haxby Road) in August 1889

7. This view of the Foss in the 1910s shows the lock keeper's house at Yearsley Lock. This is, we believe, the same house that can be seen today at the side of Haxby Road just past the New Earswick sign. But please let us know if you think we've got that wrong...

Stephen Lewis

All the photos on these pages, and thousands more, are held on Explore York’s Imagine York archive. You can browse this yourself at imagineyork.co.uk/