SPARK:YORK has achieved a milestone this month.

It has marked its third anniversary - and is still going strong.

The hospitality and retail space, housed in distinctive shipping containers, was built on a temporary plot in Piccadilly and breathed new life into the derelict site of the former Reynards garage.

York Press: The former Reynard's garage - now home to Spark:YorkThe former Reynard's garage - now home to Spark:York

It opened on May 4, 2018 - after an eight-month delay; it was supposed to open in September 2017 in time for the York Food and Drink festival.

Originally, the venture was given a two-year lease by City of York Council, which has been extended until 2022.

After that date, the land will be needed for the council’s Castle Gateway development scheme.

The site has not been without controversy over the years, not least the delay in installing timber cladding for the outside of the shipping containers.

York Press: An artist's impression of how Spark:York was to lookAn artist's impression of how Spark:York was to look

When it first opened in 2018, the shipping containers were decorated with street art.

But cladding was introduced in May 2020 - on Spark's second anniversary - as a condition of having its lease extended for an other two years.

However, in a Press poll, 94 per cent of the 5,724 respondents said they thought Spark looked worse with the timber cladding. It remains in place still.

York Press: Murals at Spark:York which are now covered in timber claddingMurals at Spark:York which are now covered in timber cladding

The venue has become popular with York residents and visitors alike, with a focus on selling food and drink from local, mostly up-and-coming businesses.

Several have used Spark as a springboard to opening up in the city centre, often in larger premises.

Last year, a council report stated that over an 18-month period, Spark had helped 12 businesses move into permanent shops or cafes - with 85 per cent taking premises in the city centre. It added that each business had taken on an average of three staff - bringing about 60 jobs to the local economy. It also said that Spark had achieved a turnover of nearly £3 million.

York Press: Spark:York has become a mecca for street foodSpark:York has become a mecca for street food

Spark became an all-seasons venue when it erected a giant canvass cover. During the pandemic, it became one of the largest outdoor areas in York for people to socialise within Covid guidelines.

It is the brainchild of Sam Leach and Tom McKenzie who have won plaudits for their enterprise.

The pair were named UK's “young entrepreneurs of the year” by an international foundation in 2019.

York Press: Spark founders Sam Leach and Tom McKenzie are celebrated as young entrepreneursSpark founders Sam Leach and Tom McKenzie are celebrated as young entrepreneurs

To mark their third anniversary, they shared photos of the project over the years and posted this message to fans:

"WE ARE THREE! Today marks exactly three years since we first opened our doors on Piccadilly. We thought we’d share a few photos from across this period and before, and take you on a little trip down memory lane. It almost feels surreal now to think of that mad hot summer of 2018 and everything that has happened since then.

"Truly, we have no idea how long the project will remain in York beyond the end of our current lease in March 2022.

"For now though, we’d like to take this chance on our birthday to thank every single person who’s made our journey possible. Whether you’ve made memories with us, supported us, laughed with us or offered a helping hand through testing times (and trust us, there’s been many!) from the bottom of our hearts - thank you.

"The future is looking bright for our SPARK* community and we can’t wait to see where it will take us... "

York Press: England fans enjoy watching the World Cup in 2018 at Spark:YorkEngland fans enjoy watching the World Cup in 2018 at Spark:York

We have also taken a trip down memory lane and share today some photos of how Spark has evolved over the years - and some of its memorable highlights (including how fans enjoyed celebrating England's run of success in the World Cup of 2018).

If you like sharing memories and photos of York, join our nostalgia group: Why We Love York - Memories, click here to join today, or visit: