York Walks /3


Photographed in July & August 2004

Note: This page was compiled in 2004. See also: Gillygate in 2011.

By York standards the buildings in Gillygate are not old and venerable, though a few of them are listed. They are though characterful and varied, as are the shops these buildings are home to. Though Gillygate is very close to the historic centre, and Bootham Bar is just around the corner, it's often been viewed as a slightly scruffy kind of street, with shops that were more for residents than tourists. It perhaps reflects the general cultural changes, as it's become much "smarter", and now has several shops that sell stylish items for the home. Though it still has a slightly "alternative" feel. Maybe not as much as it did when the Red Rhino record shop was here though, in the 80s. Nothing could ever be as cool as that.

Ornate details – Gillygate building   18th century house, Gillygate, with snuffer

Above and below: Gillygate buildings come in all shapes and sizes, with some interesting decorative details. Above left: ornate late 19th century building. Above right: built in 1769, with a snuffer still in place on the right of the doorway.

Gillygate roofscape   Gillygate view

Below: a rare sight – Gillygate without traffic, early one morning. Below left, looking towards Clarence Street, below right, towards Bootham.

View of Gillygate towards Clarence Street   View towards Bootham
Cert 18 – once the Bay Horse  

This pub, now Cert 18, used to be the Bay Horse, and was the place to be for many of us in the 1980s. It was the other place the bikers and other "alternative groups" went to, as well as the Grobs (now MacMillans) on Rougier Street. I remember there was general uproar when it was refurbished in the 80s as "Gilly's" and the landlord didn't want the "alternative" clientele to return. The back bar had been fitted out in shiny chrome, with a little dance floor.

I guess it's been refurbished many times since, as pubs seem to be gutted and remodelled at strangely short intervals.

Gillygate – Miller's Yard  

Ah, happy memories of lunches here with my sister, sitting outside in this courtyard. This used to be Gillygate Wholefood Bakery and Cafe. I'm not sure what it's used for now. I could see no signs of anything interesting going on.

Gillygate is of course fairly close to the Minster, and I was living in Gillygate for a while in 1984, at the time of the Minster fire. I was blissfully unaware, and must have slept through the whole thing, only hearing about it in the morning. (I don't remember having much of a reaction, but then I was sixteen, and it seems right to me that sixteen year olds have other concerns apart from disasters befalling historic buildings. Appreciation of history must come when you're becoming quite "historic" yourself.)

Gillygate Fisheries   Sign in Gillygate Fisheries window

Gillygate Fisheries appears to have closed, and the sign in the window thanks everyone for their loyal custom. This reminded me that I'd once been wrongly accused of disorderly conduct in here. Apparently I'd been in the week before and caused a lot of bother and got into a fight. This was very odd, as I'd not been near the place for years. Rather worrying to think that someone who looks exactly like me might be going around starting fights in chip shops and that I might be refused food because of this resemblance. I must remember to carry a banana in my bag at all times.

Firemark and elegant window   Stylish Gillygate shops

An elegant detail noticed in a first floor window lit by early morning sunlight – these two figurines of seahorses, all golden and glowing, reflecting the gilded symbol on the wall above – which is an old fire insurance mark. (I was able to confirm this on the web after discovering the very useful www.firemarks.co.uk – isn't the web a wonderful thing.) Above right – shops offering contemporary art, interior decoration and lighting for the home.

Related pages:
Also on Gillygate is the Salvation Army Citadel. At one end, Gillygate joins the street of Bootham, which begins at Bootham Bar. Also nearby is St Leonard's Place. Behind one side of Gillygate is a section of the bar walls which looks down onto Gillygate's gardens and the Minster precincts.