IT was more than the end of an era when the Willow closed its doors back in 2015.

For die hard fans, York's night life never fully recovered after the Coney Street institution staged its last dance back in 2015.

The Willow, accessed through a set of steep steps, was as unique a York experience as a walk on the bar walls or a visit to the Minster.

Part Chinese restaurant, part late-night disco, generations had enjoyed a late night bop at the Willow alongside a bowl of chow mein or a dish of prawn crackers since 1973 when Tommy Fong took it over.

It had been a cafe, of the same name, since 1936 - so very much part of York's social scene for decades.

When news broke that the cherished venue was to close, more than 400 people signed a petition, posting comments such as: "Willow is everything about a York night out," "It is the highlight of any night out in York and its removal will drastically change the city," and "Willow is life and life is Willow."

A spoof video, entitled 'Hitler Reacts to the News That Willow is Closing', also attracted almost 12,000 hits on YouTube.

A video of the last night was also made and shared on social media - you can watch it here...

Speaking to The Press back in 2015 as the Willow closed, owner Tommy revealed why he had decided to call it a day after more than 40 years.

He said his lease for the premises in Coney Street from its owner Aviva had expired in 2012, since when he had operated under a 'tenancy at will' lease, allowing the landlord to terminate it at any time, and he had been given four weeks to vacate the building.

He said when he took over the venue and turned it into a restaurant and disco in the 1970s he decided to keep the original name.

An advertising feature in the Yorkshire Evening Press from the 1970s describes what the new customers would find inside.

It makes for fascinating reading, promising delicacies akin to those served to Emperors in ancient China, dishes so traditional their names can't be translated, and authentic Chinese artworks on the walls.

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