Piccadilly - the York one, at least - dates back to the 1840s.

That's when a medieval lane which had once run alongside the lake known as the King's Fishpond (which had been created after the Norman Conquest to help protect York Castle by deliberately damming the River Foss but had long since been drained by Victorian times) was widened and named in honour of the famous London street.

The street only extended northwards as far as Dixon Lane, however. In the 1910s it was decided to extend it further northwards to link up to Parliament Street in what was one of the last stages of a city-wide civic improvement programme.

There are a number of photographs from the time which give an idea of just what a major project this was.

But few are as detailed as the ones we carry in Yesterday Once More today.

They come from a new book - York: Rare Insight - written by two council members of YAYAS, the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society.

YAYAS is now the safekeeper of the Evelyn Collection - a unique collection of thousands of images collected over more than 40 years by the doctor and conservationist Dr William Artur Evelyn.

Dr Evelyn, a specialist in consumption or TB, had come to York in 1891 to join the Museum Street practice of Dr William H. Jalland.

He arrived in York on a cold winter's afternoon in January 1891. He was greeted as he emerged from the station by a view of the city walls covered in snow, and was later to write: "I fell in love with York then and have been in love with it ever since."

Over the next 44 years, he compiled an unrivalled collection of photographs showing historic buildings that had either been lost or were threatened, and also documenting changes in the city.

Now, two YAYAS council members - Ian Drake, the Keeper of the Evelyn Collection, and Paul Chrystal, the editor of the YAYAS journal The York Historian - have brought together a selection of Dr Evelyn's photographs in York: a Rare Insight.

The photographs cover all aspects of life in York early in the last century - including buildings now lost, and 'new' streets in the process of being constructed. Many of the images have rarely, if ever, been seen in public before.

Today, we focus on photographs which show two major changes in York in the first three decades of the 20th century: the extension of Piccadilly from 1910-1912; and the demolition in the late 1920s of buildings on the south side of St Helen's Square - among them the old Harker's Hotel - to improve and widen the square and the outlook from the mansion House..

Our photographs show:

1. The extension of Piccadilly, 1912. The view is looking north towards the Pavement Vaults. The A-frame crane is being used to build a new bridge over the River Foss

2. The extension of Piccadilly in 1912: the view from Pavement looking south towards (in the distance) the female prison at the Eye of York. The Pavement Vaults alehouse to the right of the photo is next in line for demolition

3. The finished Piccadilly and bridge, looking towards Pavement, probably about 1912

4. Buildings at the south side of St Helen's Square (among them Harker's Hotel) shortly before being demolished in the late 1920s

5. 'Business as usual' at Harkers Vaults, the last remaining bit of Harkers Hotel

6. A view showing the extent of the demolition work in the area around St Helen's Square in the late 1920s. The photograph was probably taken from an upper floor

7. The vacant site on the southern corner of St Helen's Square where Harker's Hotel once stood. Betty's tearooms now stands there window at the Mansion House. The tower of St Helen's Church can be seen far left.

Stephen Lewis

  • York: A rare In sight by Ian Drake and Paul Chrystal is published by Destinworld priced £14.99. Information about how to buy the book during lockdown from info@destinworld.com