PLANS to improve the front of York Railway Station have prompted a lot of debate recently about the need (or not) for a proper bus station in York.

While the railway station proposals would see the rejigging of some bus stops, there is no plan for a bus station: an oversight which some have criticised.

The lack of a proper bus station for the city has been a sore point for decades, as a package of old photographs recovered in a search of The Press archives revealed.

The photographs included various shots of Rougier Street from the 70s, 80s and later. And one in particular - our photograph no. 1 today, taken in March 1982 - showed the public loos (with a bus shelter in front) which once stood on Rougier Street in the shadow of the Yorkshire-General Life Assurance company building.

The most interesting thing about this photo, however, is the tiny building sandwiched in between the toilets and the insurance building. This building, the caption explained, was the West Yorkshire bus company's ticket and inquiry office. And it was, according to a cutting from the Yorkshire Evening Press of the day stuck to the back of the photograph, the 'nearest York gets to having a central (bus) depot'.

The news story was headlined 'York bus service nerve centre may disappear'. It went on to describe how both the ticket inquiry office and the public toilets may be up for demolition, in order to allow Yorkshire-General Life Assurance to expand by building a new office block.

This is, of course, precisely what happened. General Life Assurance got permission to demolish the buildings and put up a new, five-storey, £2.25 million office development on Rougier Street. There was nothing much wrong with the red brick building in itself - but it did hide from view the facade of the grand old railway HQ behind (now The Grand Hotel) and contributed to the canyon-like feeling of the street.

Our series of photos today show the whole process. We have an alternative view 9seen from the opposite direction) of the old ticket office (photo 2); two photographs showing cranes at work on the site following the demolition (photos 3 and 4); and a later photograph (photo 5) showing the new office block which eventually appeared. The one constant in all of them is the square bulk of the original General Assurance building itself.

We also have one final photograph (photo 6). Taken in 1978, this shows the derelict Eric Gibbs garage, described as being 'at the corner of Rougier Street and Tanner Row'. An accompanying news story explained how this building was itself scheduled for demolition. "The building, a semi-derelict garage which has offered scope for years of furtive fly-posting, was singled out by the Civic Trust as 'dirty, unkempt and in every sense an eyesore'," the news story explained.

We can only assume that this building must once have stood next to the public conveniences a bit further along Rougier Street - in which case that is presumably the roof of the toilet building which can just be glimpsed at the far right of the photograph, between Gibbs' garage and the Life Assurance building.

Do any readers remember this building?

Stephen Lewis