A TOP York hotel is to change its name to honour a man who lost his life entering the railway station to try and obtain much-needed medical supplies to treat air raid casualties during the Second World War.

Plans have been submitted to City of York Council to change the signage of various parts of the Principal Hotel, which forms part of the overall York Railway Station, with names reflecting other major York railway figures.

The rebranding of the hotel, which was built in 1878 as the Royal Station Hotel, follows Glasgow-based hospitality firm RBH Management taking over the management contract for Principal York in October 2022 from IHG, another major hospitality company.

It became the Principal Hotel in November 2016, following a multi-million pound restoration in 2015 by the Principal Hotel Company.


Now, the name and brand of the hotel must change due to the ownership of The Principal name.

The hotel is currently going through the planning process to change the name and branding to The Milner York, which will take place once approval is given.

Station foreman William Milner gave his life in 1942 when he entered a blazing station building to gain the supplies during the notorious Baedecker Raid, posthumously gaining the King’s commendation for gallantry. A memorial to him exists today at the railway station.

In addition, the name of the hotel’s food and beverage outlets will also be changed – from The Refectory to Peachey’s Bar & Grill and from The Chapter Bar to The Swollen Gambler.

York Press: How an entrance may change under the new branding

William Peachey of the North Eastern Railway, designed the hotel as an integral part of the new station and also as the North Eastern Railway Company’s flagship hotel.

The Swollen Gambler takes its name from railway pioneer George Hudson, who put York on the map as a major railway destination in the 1800s and was known to live an opulent life, fuelled by drinking and gambling.

A spokesperson for RBH Management told the Press: “This change in management presented the hotel with a rare and wonderful opportunity to do more than just change the name of this well-known, loved hotel in York.

“The renaming process has led to a reimagination of the hotel’s brand, positioning, and how it is presented to guests; from the way that staff are trained and the welcome that guests will receive when they step through the doors.

“A new menu and drinks offering will be introduced in due course, with signature dishes reflecting the new brand.”

York Press: How an entrance may change under the new branding

In addition, the hotel is spending over £2million in property improvements as part of the new brand proposition.

More than £1.6 million of this will be spent on implementing air conditioning in the hotel’s 155 bedrooms and suites.

Some of this work- a major project for a Victorian building- has already been done and completion is expected this summer.

Last summer, City of York Council renewed the approval of a four-storey extension to the hotel, creating 41 more bedrooms.

The spokesperson added, these plans are still ‘live’ and “are being explored for future developments.”