HERE'S a photo to take your breath away. Taken in the 1890s by an unknown photographer, it shows a sail-powered barge or other cargo vessel being manoeuvred out onto the River Ouse in York with the help of steering oars.

The caption to the photograph, which comes from Explore York's wonderful 'Imagine York' archive, says simply that the boat is 'carrying goods on the River Ouse'. But where exactly?

We reckon it must be just south of the confluence with the River Foss, in which case the riverside walk to the left is New Walk. This was constructed as a 'promenade' for the city's wealthy elite in Georgian times - and in this photograph you can still, if you look carefully, see a soberly-dressed couple promenading along the walk.

As to the boat itself - it look as though the oarsmen may be trying to work it out into the Ouse from the River Foss, just out of picture. Maybe it has come from the Foss Basin?

Stephen Lewis