THE Clements Hall Local History Group have made quite a name for themselves with a string of well-researched local history books, often focussing on early shops and businesses in the South Bank area.

Previous publications have included ‘Bishy Road: A York shopping street in time’; ‘Shadows in the bricks: The old shops of South Bank in York’; and ‘Made in Clementhorpe: Exploring York’s Industrial History’.

Now the group is back with a new book. ‘Bishophill and Skeldergate: Exploring old shops, pubs and industries in York’ does pretty much exactly what it says on the cover.

Like the previous volumes, it’s a combination of meticulous research, personal memories – and contributed photographs.

It covers the two areas in question almost street by street, uncovering lost memories and forgotten snippets. There’s some lovely detail in the book which brings the past to vivid life and gives you a sense of how this part of York has grown and developed over time.

For example, about Buckingham Street - which runs west and south from Skeldgerate - the book says: “There was a great celebration in 1855 when this new street opened, rising up the steep slope from the river. It was the first of a succession of local streets filled with terraced houses built from the mid-19th century.

"The press commented that the street provided a new direct and ample route between Nunnery Laner and Skeldergate.”

The celebrations in September 1855 to mark the street’s opening involved local property owners and workmen alike all sitting down together to enjoy an ‘excellent supper’ in one of the workshops belonging to Thomas Cooke.

They raised a glass to Napoleon III (for some reason) – but also to ‘our gallant heroes and Allies in the Crimea’.

Given the importance Skeldergate plays in the book, it’s no surprise that many riverside businesses and pubs feature – as well as the quayside at Queen’s Staith itself (see following pages).

But there are also accounts of the famous lens-makers Thomas Cooke & Sons, plus other local businesses, including the ‘short-lived cycle agent’ John Robert Acey; Capaldi’s ice cream factory on Fetter Lane; and Red Rhino Records, which had a warehouse in Fetter Lane and a shop in Gillygate.

‘Bishophill and Skeldergate: Exploring old shops, pubs and industries in York’ is available, priced £10, from local shops.