(See bottom of page for new development built on this site.)
Burton Croft, former home of J B Morrell, was visited in York Walks /3, in the summer of 2004, when its future was being debated. A planning application by Barratt Homes would involve demolishing the Victorian house and building flats in its place. The plans were controversial, and many local people tried to save the building. The developers won.
In the summer of 2004 the house was looking a little run-down, with some of its windows boarded up, and holes in the roof. A security guard could often be seen sitting in the conservatory looking a little bored. The house was a nursing home for the elderly in recent years, and I remember, from passing sometimes, residents sitting in this conservatory, with its view of the garden.
The nursing home closed some years ago, as so many have.
By November, when this photo was taken, Barratt had got its way. I wasn't feeling particularly anti-property-developer at the time, until I saw this Barratt sign. I realise that it's a standard sign, but it might be more appropriate next to an empty field. You can't help but notice that the 'LAND ACQUIRED' referred to has a large house in the middle of it. But it's just land to them.
5 February 2005 – and the house is no longer inconveniently getting in the way of the glorious future of this piece of land as a site for 'Premier collection homes'.
This view is taken from the same corner as the image above, with Burton Croft now a pile of bricks in the background.
I didn't campaign about Burton Croft, and I didn't feel as strongly about its fate as many people did. But when I heard it was being demolished, I couldn't bring myself to go and look, and take photos of the actual demolition, though perhaps the photos would have been more interesting than this one, of a pile of slates and bricks.
There's something sad always about buildings being demolished. Many people had fond memories of this building, and admiration and respect for the work of J B Morrell, whose home it originally was.
To the side of the demolition site, this old garden hedge and its white gate remained, rather incongruous and a little sad somehow.
But sentiment aside, we may want to question the sheer waste involved in destroying a solidly-built house. And we can't help but think about the environmental impact of destroying it – removing tons of bricks and broken slates and smashed window frames – and then bringing onto the site all the materials needed to build a lot of new houses in its place.
Still, they're property developers, and that's what property developers do. Now, in the summer of 2005, the site is surrounded by hoardings and there's a marketing place at the front.
Burton Croft was visited and photographed previously in July 2004. See York Walks /3 – Burton Croft.
The new development on the site of Burton Croft is pictured below. On the wall forming the boundary to the street is a plaque, also pictured.
The above photos were taken on 5 June 2007. The plaque reads:
"DR JOHN BOWES MORRELL ("JBM") 1873-1963
This site of Burton Croft was the home to Dr John Bowes Morrell from 1907 until his death on 26 April 1963. Described as 'York's greatest benefactor', and he was twice Lord Mayor of York, an Honorary Freeman of the City of York, Rowntree & Co Ltd's youngest ever director, instrumental in the foundation of the University of York and its Pro-Chancellor. He instigated the opening of the Castle Museum, was co-founder of York Civic Trust and founder of York Conservation Trust."
I wonder if anyone else reading this plaque would find it sadly ironic that the house of the founder of York Conservation Trust wasn't conserved. It also seems a shame that the phrasing of this sign is rather clumsy. But maybe now I'm just being picky and pedantic (and I'm sure there's some clumsy sentences on here).
Have to say that the flats look quite handsome, as modern flats go, and fit in okay, in my humble opinion.
Since I wrote the above update, the metal plaque has disappeared. Perhaps another case of metal theft – an increasing problem.