Press reader ROSE BERL shares precious memories and photos of growing up at the Festival Flats in Fishergate

POSSIBLY some readers will have lived or still live in the Festival Flats situated at the corner of Fishergate and Paragon Street.

We, Mum, Dad and me, moved into a ground-floor flat in 1951, just after their completion.

They were called 'Festival' to celebrate the Festival of Britain that year.

For 1951 they were modern with central heating and communal washing machines. The inner courtyard was a safe place for the children living in one of the twenty flats to play.

As I was only three years old when we moved in, I was not allowed to play out and later only until tea-time.

By the time we left I was 11 and could join in the games of cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, hide-and-seek, catch and so on until it was dark.

The courtyard, flanked on two sides by the flats and on a third by a warehouse, was a safe place for us. Few of the residents had cars. Those who did drove through the gateway on the fourth side at walking speed.

What could be a hazard were the unfortunate cattle being driven to the market which was on the opposite side of the road and stretching back along Paragon Street.

The slaughterhouse was also close by. The beasts, frightened by their rough treatment, sometimes broke away and charged through the gate.

I can recall a bullock gazing through our living-room window. Sometimes we went to the cattle market. Perhaps a memory of a calf, separated from its mother, sucking my finger has led to me eating a mainly vegan diet.

The Festival Flats were council-owned but, someone told me a few years ago, were considered posh and not worth canvassing for the Labour Party.

As a small child, one is blissfully ignorant of such matters. When it was some child's birthday a gentleman with a donkey was hired to give us rides up and down the courtyard.

We bought a television for the Queen`s Coronation and our living-room was packed with neighbours who hadn't yet acquired that bulky box with a small screen and wanted to watch the historic ritual.

Paragon Street was busy with traffic by 1950s standards.

My bedroom faced the street and, spending a weekend with my grandparents in Rosedale, I found it difficult to sleep. The night was so quiet. Our flat also faced the City Walls and I imagined medieval soldiers peeping out to see if an enemy was approaching.

WE have dipped into our archive to share with you some more photos of the Festival Flats and Fishergate over the years - hope you enjoy them!

One dates from October 1965 and shows the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh during their visit to York University. Our photographer snapped them as the Royal car passed the Festival Flats, to the acclaim of hundreds of York children.

Another shows the flats in more recent times in 2010.

We also have some old photos showing when the cattle market was in the area around the Barbican - but sadly no loose bullocks at large!

Would you like to write about a special memory of York - and share some old photos? Email

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