York Walks /3

Somewhere over the Stonebow

Photographed on 15 August 2004

I visited the Stonebow a few months ago and took photos of it in all its concrete loveliness. It had never really occurred to me to check the view from above. There's a car park on the roof of its lower level, and from here you can get a better view of the church and chapel on St Saviourgate, the views of which it so rudely interrupts.

Shown right is the top of one of the beautiful columns at the front of the Central Methodist Church. These are much closer to you when you're standing on the Stonebow building, which is one thing in its favour, at least.

  Central Methodist Church (Centenary Chapel) – detail
Grand front of Methodist chapel, above Stonebow's concrete edging   Central Methodist Church (Centenary Chapel) – looking down from Stonebow

Above: two more views of the Central Methodist Church, over the Stonebow's concrete edging. I leave you to decide whether the grey concrete bar across the front of the Methodist Chapel enhances it or not.

It smelt of pee up here, but I braved the unpleasantness to bring these photos to you, dear website visitor. I hope my OBE's arriving soon.

Methodist church, with cars  

Interesting juxtaposition – the cars on the Stonebow car park in front of the Methodist chapel. We worship different things these days, and finding space for these metal boxes is of great importance.

St Saviour's Church (now the ARC), from Stonebow   View across Stonebow

Above: St Saviours' (now the ARC) from the Stonebow car park, with modern St Saviourgate offices.


Above: across the concrete expanse, showing how Stonebow "fits in" with its surroundings.

View from Stonebow with Minster just visible   View from Stonebow – demolition on adjacent site

Look! You can even see the Minster! (Just)


The steps to the car park give a view of the building site by the side of the Stonebow, where Russells Used Car Centre is being demolished.

Telephone exchange from Stonebow   Telephone exchange

Above: The disused telephone exchange building, built in the 1950s and admired by some (including me), hated by others, probably just because it's modern, I guess. I don't really understand this "modern equals ugly" idea – it's not always true.

I've even started to think that the Stonebow building is quite attractive in its own kind of way. It's like after the war there was a disregard of old chapels and churches and old-style things, and an urge to build something totally different, something of its time. It does look like it was plonked there with absolutely no regard for its surroundings. In that respect it seems kind of careless and modern, like we just stuck it there and didn't give a damn. I quite like it for that, for being the spirit of an age. I would be sad, I realise, if they knocked it down now and built one of those nice twee things that say nothing at all, the kind of thing that fills all the spaces around here. At least it was a statement.

Have I just said I like the Stonebow? Must be the effect of too much hot summer sun on my head . . .

Related pages:

For pictures of the Stonebow building itself, see York Walks /2: Stonebow and Hungate. For more on the Hungate/Palmer Lane area nearby, which is due to be redeveloped, see York Walks /1: Ripe for redevelopment. More photos of St Saviourgate's churches feature in York Walks /2: St Saviourgate (spring) and York Walks /1: St Saviourgate (winter).