ARCHAEOLOGISTS will this week start delving for hidden history beneath the site which is to become York’s new council HQ.

A Roman bath complex and a Medieval friary are among the treasures which may be discovered as a part of York’s railway heritage is transformed into the city’s civic flagship.

West Offices, in Station Rise, will ultimately house City Of York Council’s new £32 million customer service centre – and our pictures today show where that facility will be based.

A cantilevered roof will cover the customer centre, which will stand on the scene where trains used to arrive at the city’s first railway station.

The station’s canopy has been taken away for restoration work by specialists in Chesterfield before it makes its return as an essential feature of the new building.

A team of about 60 workers, employed by Miller Construction, are on site at the moment, but this week will see attention turn to the past rather than the future as excavation work, which is expected to last for six weeks, begins. A display of any historic finds is expected to be held once the archaeological work is completed.

Chris Hale, design manager for S Harrison Developments Ltd, the developers for the scheme, said: “This is a unique building and, while it was previously hidden, we are now showing that it was a railway station.

“Not only are we preserving the historic, important parts of the building, we are also making sure it is modern and efficient.”

The building should be handed over to the council in September next year and be open for business by the end of 2012.

When it does open, it will bring the saga over the authority’s HQ, which saw controversial plans for a purpose-built base in Hungate abandoned, to an end.

Council leader-elect James Alexander said: “I am keen for this project to be completed as soon as possible, as it will save money to taxpayer in the long run by saving a number of different office rents and leases.

“I have requested that the council’s chief executive brings me forward options for reducing the overall cost of the project. York needs a decent, consolidated council office that respects the building’s railway heritage and does not need a palace as a monument to the waste of the previous Liberal Democrat administration.”