WELL, here's a rare treat for you: a glimpse of what Pavement looked like in the days when it was one of York's two principal markets, long before Parliament Street was ever built, and when the beautiful market cross in front of All Saints Church still stood.

Parliament Street was built in the mid 1830s by act of Parliament specifically so that it could link the city's two existing markets, in Pavement and 'Thursday Market' (today's St Sampson's Square).

We believe the wonderful painting which is our main picture today is by someone named 'W. Dove'. Sadly, we don't know any more about him or her. But since, according to York Civic Trust, the Pavement market cross was demolished in 1813 in order to make way for more market stalls, it was clearly painted before then. So it shows what Pavement looked like at least 20 years before Parliament Street was ever built.

According to 'A History of the County of York', edited by PM Tillott, Pavement was not only an ancient market place and one of the city's two principal markets in medieval times, it was also a place of "public gatherings, proclamations, and punishments (and) perhaps one of the first streets in the city to become a 'paved way'. The paving was probably maintained by the corporation."

As we reported in Yesterday Once More a few weeks ago, however, by the early 1800s (so perhaps about the time this painting was made) Pavement and Thursday Market were also becoming increasingly rowdy and disordered. The city corporation was struggling to maintain control, to the extent that 'by 1830 the restricted space of Pavement was being increasingly used for stalls of city shopkeepers, and by hawkers and pedlars, to the exclusion of legitimate stall-holders from the country' (A History of the County of York, again).

You get a sense of that disorderliness in this wonderful late-night painting. Not all of the people gathering near the market cross or walking (staggering?) along the street seem entirely sober, shall we say. Shades of York city centre on a Saturday night today (York city centre pre-lockdown, that is) perhaps...

This glorious painting comes from the new book York: A Rare Insight that we featured on these pages last week.

The book brings together a fascinating selection of the photographs and other images gathered together in the early 1900s by the doctor and conservationist Dr William Evelyn. The Evelyn Collection, as it is called, is now in the safekeeping of the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (YAYAS). And York: A Rare Insight is written by two YAYAS council members, Ian Drake and Paul Chrystal.

We have a selection of other photos from the same book for you today. In addition to that wonderful painting of Pavement, they show:

- The view looking north-eastwards along Pavement in the early 1900s, before Piccadilly had been extended. The medieval timber-framed buildings to the right of the photograph were demolished to allow Piccadilly to open onto Pavement in 1912. In the middle distance on the left you can see St Crux' church hall. Beyond that is the Old George Hotel, which was demolished when Stonebow was built in the 1950s

- Buildings in the moat beside the section of city walls that runs alongside St Maurice's Road between Jewbury and Monk Bar, precise date unknown but probably early 1900s. The tower of the second St Maurice's Church, which stood outside Monk Bar between 1878 and 1969, is visible in the background

- Shambles, early 1900s. While originally a street of butchers' shops and slaughterhouses, by the time this photo was taken a barber and a pub (the Eagle and Child) had also set up shop there

- Little Shambles at the junction with Shambles, early 1900s. Many of the buildings at the other end of the street were demolished in the 1950s because they were considered to be in a poor state of repair. The space created is now occupied by Shambles Market

- A view of the Boyes department store looming behind Ouse Bridge. The photograph was taken before December 1910, when a fire tore through the store, badly damaging it. The fire, on December 8, 1910, started on the second of the store's six floors when 'paper decorations in the toy department were set alight by a nearby gas lamp', write Drake and Chrystal in York: A Rare Insight. Within six hours, the building was a smouldering shell.

The advertising sign which stretches across the Low Ousegate side of the building in this photograph, incidentally, reads: '...at liberty to walk round. Not expected to purchase.'

Stephen Lewis

York: A Rare Insight 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