York Walks /3

Mill Mount – alternative angles

Photographed in July & August 2004

< back to Mill Mount Lane – page 1

After my first visit, I called back to have a look from the other side of the school premises, accessed from Albermarle Road. The grounds used to be protected by a gate in the walls at the Albermarle Road entrance, but there's no gate there now. Instead there's a hideous steel fence part way into the school grounds, going all the way around the lawn and the buildings. It looked more like a prison than a school.

  'New Wing'

The photo above shows a recent library extension to what I think we called the "New Wing", which was built in 1959, as was the gym. I guess the new library was built in the last ten years or so, as it wasn't there in the Mill Mount days.

'New Wing' – view 2 – with steel fence   Another view through the high steel fence, towards the corner where the "New Wing" meets the middle section housing the school hall, with another of those steel fences inbetween.

I wasn't intending to include another page about Mill Mount, but I had a nice email from Helen, another former pupil, who'd found the original page about Mill Mount, and Helen's email reminded me of some more positive things about our old school. So I thought I should share all the photos I have in case any other former Mill Mount girls are looking on the web for information or pictures. More images, from both the Mill Mount Lane side of the school, and the Albermarle Road end, appear below. Most of the pictures on this page can be enlarged if you click on them. They were taken during two visits, in July and August 2004.

From Mill Mount Lane, looking towards the school gym at the bottom. On the right of the photo, the school hall building. This part of the school was built in 1935.

On the left, just visible, newer buildings have replaced the old buildings, including the Mill Mount canteen.

Also on that side of the lane, I remember, were the Domestic Science rooms, where we were taught to cook and sew, and didn't have any say in the matter, at least for the first year or two. I wish I'd been there when they were bulldozed. I would have cheered.

  School Hall
Mill Mount Lane view, showing hall on left   Gym

Above: looking back up the lane, with the school hall on the left.


Above: the gym, built in 1959.

Newer buildings, Mill Mount Lane  

The side of Mill Mount Lane opposite the school buildings has changed enormously since the mid-1980s when I was a pupil here. Across the lane from the main building, and the school hall and gym pictured above, there used to be various prefab classrooms. Now there are smart buildings which may be offices or housing. The prefabs were built in the 1970s, so weren't exactly historic, and I imagine no one mourned their disappearance.

For the sake of anyone else who was at Mill Mount around the time I was, I've included this photograph I discovered of the prefabs. I didn't take the photo, and think that it was taken by my sister, maybe on a nostalgic trip back here, probably in the 1980s, sometime after she'd left. These buildings remind me of music lessons, debating politics in English lessons, and being late for form registration quite a lot.

  Mill Mount 1970s-built prefabs
Mill Mount Lane view, with building site   Building site – view 2

Above: I neglected to mention, on the first page about Mill Mount, that there's a lot of building work going on in Mill Mount Lane. I can't remember what was here before, next to the school, possibly it was offices. Much of it has been cleared, around some handsome old buildings that remain. These photos above show the area that has been cleared next to the main buildings of the school.

"To have spent time in such a place"

The house which forms the oldest part of the school was built in 1850 by J B and W Atkinson, for Charles Heneage Elsley. From 1920 to the mid-1980s it was home to Mill Mount Grammar School for Girls.

When the school closed, a souvenir booklet – "The Last Windmill" – was published. It includes the following thoughts, from Miss Marguerita Spence, who was a pupil at Mill Mount between 1922 to 1930:

"Preservation of historic buildings and appreciation of architecture was not as popular then as now, and girls were not specifically told anything about the fine building in which they worked and played. But to have spent time in such a place, with so pleasant a garden, and with views from the upper windows over the Knavesmire must have inspired (albeit again unconsciously) some feelings for good buildings and beautiful surroundings."

I like the idea that our time here may have inspired in us "some feelings for good buildings and beautiful surroundings". I don't think we appreciated at the time how lucky we were. But there were times when even the sulkiest and most cynical of teenagers (eg me) were touched by the significance of these surroundings.

  Main building, dating from  1850
  Detail of 1850 buildings, from Mill Mount Lane

There was even a rose garden, outside the headmistress's office. I remember our English teacher praising the rose garden, and quoting the line from T S Eliot's Four Quartets: "Late roses filled with early snow". It's stayed in my mind for twenty years, and every time I read Four Quartets, I think of the Mill Mount rose garden.

When I visited the site I couldn't get access to the part where the rose garden used to be. I discovered a pathway that used to lead to it, but had to be content with a photograph of the pathway, through a steel fence.

This pathway skirts the school grounds, by the lawn, and at one time headed towards the rose garden. I'm not sure if there's still a rose garden here. But I've been reminded of another few lines from Four Quartets:

"What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden."

T S Eliot