WE'VE got a real treat for you on these pages today: a selection of old photographs from Explore York Libraries and Archives that, to our knowledge, we've never seen before...

We particularly like the photo of Acomb Green, mainly because of the in formation that accompanies it in the caption. The Green was originally known as ‘Yarcomb Sand'oil’, apparently, or the 'Acomb sandhole'. It is said that this was where sand was extracted for sale in the streets in York – and reputedly for making the glass that went into the great medieval windows of York Minster. We also love the photo of Acomb (or should that be Acombe?) Front Street in the late 1910s, looking the same as and yet utterly different to the way it dos today.

Here are the captions from the photographs in order...

1. Front Street in Acomb in the late 1910s or early 1920s

2. Acomb Green, seen here in the 1910s, was originally known as ‘Yarcomb Sand'oil’. The last syllable indicates "hole" and it is said that this the site of sand extraction for sale in the streets in York – and reputedly for making the glass that went into the great medieval windows of York minster. On the right is the Primate Methodist Chapel, sometimes known as Benson's Chapel. It was taken over by the Friends in 1911. There is also a square building known as the ‘barracks’ because of its appearance. This has been demolished and replaced by modern building

3. A crane in the yard of York’s old railway station. It appears to be working on the shed which was at the end of the old Scarborough platform. The picture was taken before 1923, as that was when work began on the war memorial, which necessitated removing part of the mound of the city walls

4. High Ousegate is shown decorated with flags to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. On the right in the distance is the YMCA next door to Cox and Falconer who were cabinet makers. The optician, J. Marshall Smith, is next door - he was also a cutler and surgical instrument dealer as well as hiring out magic lanterns and slides. Next door is the drapers shop belonging to Harry Reveley. Mr Reveley had worked at Leak and Thorp on Coney Street before starting his own business. On the left of the street is a branch of the York Coffee House. Yes, we had them even back then…

5.The brush making department in the workshops at the York School for the Blind at King's Manor. These adult workers, pictured in the 1920s, would have received wages for attending the "out-workers" department

6.The massive gatehouse for York Prison in the 1930s, not long before its demolition in 1935. Clifford's Tower can be seen behind. In 1900 the male prison was made available to the War office for use as a military prison. This was closed in 1929 and ceased to be a prison at all in 1932. The sign on the right hand tower indicates that building materials from the demolition can be purchased

7.The walls of York Prison being demolished in 1935. The picture was taken at the point where the new entrance to the Assize Court was to be positioned.

Stephen Lewis

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