THERE’S a whiff of vintage-era America to our main photo today. It must be those petrol globes on the garage forecourt.You half expect to see a classic 1950s Cadillac with distinctive fin tails pulling up.

Actually, the photograph was taken in Blossom Street some time between 1910 and 1935. We can guess the date because you can see tramlines in the street, with overhead power lines strung above. So this picture was taken during the era of York’s electric trams, between 1910 and 1935.

You can actually make out Micklegate Bar in the distance. Those petrol globes, meanwhile, bear the name Pratt’s. This was a brand of the Anglo-American Oil Co, which was first introduced in the UK in 1895 and lasted until 1935, when it was re-branded as ‘Esso’ - a phonetic version of the initials of Standard Oil.

This photograph, like the others on these pages, comes from the book York: A Rare Insight that we have featured on these pages before. No apologies for dipping in again. The book brings together a fascinating selection of the photographs gathered together in the early 1900s by the doctor and conservationist William Evelyn. The Evelyn Collection 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.

Our other photos today, all from the same book, show:

  • Jubbergate, and a close-up view of the building now occupied by Gert & Henry's. At the time this photo was taken, in what looks like the very early 1900s, the building was occupied by A Wells, the broker. The number of people gathered for the photo gives the sense of an area of York that was buzzing with life and activity
  • Jubbergate again, in a photograph that was taken before 1937, when Holy Trinity Church in King's Square was demolished. We know that, because the church's tower can just be seen in the background of the photo, to the left. The area has seen a bit of a change in fortune since the picture was taken. The building which dominates the photo is again the one which now houses Gert & Henry's. When this photograph was taken, however, it looked rather run down, and was occupied by H Muir. The signs leave no doubt as to the nature of the business. 'H. Muir. For mail-carts, new-hoods and repairs' says one. 'Perambulators for hire' says the other.
  • The Leetham's Mill complex viewed from Foss Islands Road. The oldest part of the complex was built in 1895. At one time, Leetham's was the largest flour mill in Europe
  • Derelict mills and warehouses on Skeldergate. Most of the buildings on the right of the picture fronted onto the Ouse but have long since been demolished and replaced by much sought-after riverside apartments. The two storey building with the Dutch style gable ends dated from the 17th century and was probably used by wine merchants
  • Skeldergate again: this time a photograph of residents turning out to look at floods. The date is uncertain, but the warehouses and industrial buildings between Skeldergate and the Ouse were all demolished in the last century to be replaced by desirable (and expensive) riverside apartments
  • Clifford Street some time after 1910: you can see the tramlines inserted into the stone sets in the street. The building to the left covered in advertising is Trinity Chapel, which had been built in 1856. In 1935, the disused chapel was bought by the York Corporation and converted into the city fire station. The fire station has itself recently been converted into luxury flats. Little of the original building survives except the gable end with its decorative brickwork.

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@

Yorkshire Castles and Cobles

In Yesterday Once More last week, we challenged you to identify old photos of several Yorkshire market and seaside towns. Here are the answers:

1. Richmond, 1918

2. Also Richmond, 1918

3. Grassington, 1900

4. Robin Hood's Bay, 1906

5. Scarborough Castle, 1910

6. Hawes, 1931

7. Knaresborough, 1933