THE proposed redevelopment of the Castle area of York (now rechristened the Castle Gateway) has been much in the news this year. If all goes to plan, the Castle car park will go (to be replaced by a new, multi-storey car park at St George's Fields), the Eye of York will be reinterpreted, a new footpath will run along the banks of the Foss behind the Castle Museum, and a footbridge will lead across to Piccadilly. In a separate but complementary scheme, the York Museums Trust also has plans to improve the Castle Museum itself.

With all eyes on this quarter of York, we have run several spreads of old photographs recently - one focussing on the Eye of York itself, the other on the Castle car park, which is smack bang where York's old Victorian prison once stood.

We've now dug out, from Explore York's fantastic Imagine York archive, another brilliant series of photographs, several of which appear to show the old prison being demolished in the mid 1930s. There are also a couple of older photos of the prison in its heyday, by way of contrast.

Our photos today show:

1. A crane in front of Clifford's Tower demolishing the buildings and walls of the Victorian prison in 1934 or 1935. The prison, which had the governor's house and admin block at the centre of a series of radiating spokes which were the cell blocks, had been built between 1826 and 1835 next to Clifford's Tower to serve as a new County Gaol. The entire complex was surrounded by a forbidding stone wall which shut it off from the outside world. In this photograph, the jagged edge of that part-demolished wall can be clearly seen, with the crane looming to one side of it and Clifford's Tower behind

2. In contrast with photo 1, the formidable walls of the Victorian prison are still intact in this view from across the river, taken probably in the 1910s. They can be glimpsed between the trees in Tower Gardens

3. The prisoner governor's house can be clearly seen behind its low boundary wall to the right of Clifford's Tower in this photograph. Look carefully, however, and you can just see a crane in the background, to the right of the governor's house. So the photo probably dates from 1934 or 1935, shortly before the prison and its walls were demolished

4. The demolition of York prison in 1934/5. The inside of the prison gateway, which faced on to Tower Street, can be seen on the left. A crane stands before it, with rubble strewn across the ground. The way into Cliffords Tower used to be through the dark entrance which can be seen in the castle mound, and then up a sloping stairway to the tower gateway

5. This slightly earlier photo, taken before demolition work began, shows in close-up the imposing prison gate, which faced onto Tower Street. It is pictured here from the inside, with the outer prison wall running away to the left. The wall which surrounded the base of the castle mound on which Clifford's Tower stands can be seen to the right of the frame. The prison walls were made of grey gritstone which was reused in projects throughout the city following the demolition

6. Clifford's Tower in the 1870s. The wall surrounding the base of the castle mound on which Clifford's Tower stands is clearly visible

7. A more recent photograph - taken on March 17, 1983 - showing Clifford's Tower standing proud on its mound. There is no trace of the grim prison walls which once surrounded the tower, and which had been demolished almost 50 years before this photograph was taken.

Stephen Lewis