York Walks /3

Burton Croft, Burton Stone Lane

Photographed on 21 July 2004

Update – 2005

For an update from June 2005 see Changes: Burton Croft.

13 August 2004

The decision has been made to demolish Burton Croft, once the home of distinguished citizen J B Morrell. Many people had hoped that this Victorian building could be rescued, but at the council meeting this week it was agreed that the developers who want to demolish it will have their way.

  Sign: Burton Croft

If councillors cannot find it within themselves to fight for Burton Croft, when will they make a stand? This piece of York history, home to one of their most illustrious predecessors, John Bowes Morrell, is to be wiped from the face of the city. And for what? To provide space for another huddle of modern flats, most likely priced far beyond local residents' reach.

– Evening Press leader, 13 August 2004

More information on the decision: Councillors vote to demolish historic York home – from www.thisisyork.co.uk

View of Burton Croft from the front   Detail of building

It would have needed a bit of work to convert it for residential use, but then this building has seen many modifications and modernisations over the years. It's changed a fair bit since J B Morrell's time. I don't think he put that conservatory on the front, for example. And when he lived here, I don't think he used the roof as a pigeon loft, as it seems to have become.

Slogan  'Hate Crime' on boarded-up window   Security firm's sign on front railings

As the building has now been empty for a while, it's showing signs of neglect. Last year it was occupied for a time by the York Peace Collective, who were moving around the city highlighting the waste of perfectly good buildings like this one. The slogans on the boarded-up windows may be from that time, and possibly refer to their eviction, though I'm not sure. The building is now protected by a security firm, whose representative sits in the conservatory looking bored.

Burton Croft roof, with slipped slates and pigeons   Burton Croft roof, pigeons fill in for missing roof ornamentation

There are also, of course, the inevitable pigeons. I don't mind pigeons, indeed I think in many ways they're cleverer than we are, as at least they know a good roosting place when they see it, and put it to use. While we've been dithering amongst ourselves, and Barratt Homes Ltd have been circling the site with £ signs in their eyes, the pigeons have made a home here. Note that on the photo above right, the pigeons also appear to be filling in for the missing bits of roof ornamentation.

"It was a dreadful decision and one that will be regretted by the decision-makers of York in future years."

– Philip Crowe, campaigner for Burton Croft, quoted in the Evening Press, 13 August 2004

And a few words of wisdom from the gentleman whose home this once was:

"Edmund Burke has told us that "A civil Society is a Partnership not only between those who are living but between those who are dead and those who are not born". We cannot see the City of our Dreams without thinking of our great inheritance from the past and the present. There are few places in England where this partnership has been so fruitful as York, few places where the rulers of the City have so great a responsibility of preserving the beauty of the past whilst providing for the development of the City."

– J B Morrell, The City of our Dreams, 1955

Related pages:

Clifton building boom, Bits of Clifton, and Bootham Crescent.