York Walks /3

York Central Mission Hall, Swinegate

Photographed on 29 July 2004

In a city such as York, where you're surrounded by ancient buildings, it's easy to miss the more recent ones of the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet some of these buildings represent – in their very bricks – the beliefs, hard work and aspirations of our more recent ancestors. I've passed this building many times, and always admired it, but have only found out about its history while putting this page together. It's been the Elim Church for many years, but originally, as its front proclaims boldly, it was the York Central Mission Hall.

  Elim Pentecostal Church – weathered sign

"400 bricks were bought and people paid 7s to lay a brick in the wall facing Little Swinegate" – from Imagine York – the library service's online collection of old photographs of York. The site includes an excellent photo of the bricklaying ceremony here, in 1910, when the bricks were laid: Photo of the Central Mission bricklaying ceremony, from the Imagine York collection – © City of York Council.

  Bricks showing initials

Stone laid by Misses Cammidge, to the memory of W Camidge, FRHS Stone laid by Mrs Workman Stone laid by Mrs T A Booth

These stones are all along the wall of the building. On some, the carving is still distinct, while others show signs of the wear and tear of the years. To me they are just as beautiful, in their own way, as anything on the exterior of the Minster.

Personally I'm an agnostic, but I can still recognise the significance of places of worship. I love that massive carved stone above the door, proclaiming this building as the YORK CENTRAL MISSION HALL.

The York Central Mission was started as an independent non-sectarian mission by two members of the Centenary Methodist Chapel.

Carved stone banner: York Central Mission

Images of the building. The photo below left, of the main entrance, can be enlarged by clicking on the image.

Main entrance, York Central Mission building, Swinegate   Carved stone reads: Lecture Hall and School

It seemed important to take photos of this building now, because it's got one of these:

Planning application notice, Elim Church  

The highly fashionable planning notice. It seems that every street should have one, or several, on display. The sign in the window states that the application seeks consent for:
"Change of use from non-consecrated place of worship to use classes A1 (retail), A2 (offices) and/or A3 (food and drink)."

I wonder what the people who laid those bricks would think.

'To the tourist, York appears to be an unchanging city, living off the glories of its past, but the reality is much different. The pace of change, never absent at any stage in its history, accelerates.'
– Hugh Murray, 1990

Related pages:

Many former "nonconformist" chapels remain in York, converted for other purposes. See York Walks /2: Converted chapels and York Walks /3: Former chapels

Update – 2006

The building has now been redeveloped, and opened in 2006 as the Biltmore Bar and Grill. Its exterior looks the same, apart from the addition of the Biltmore name. I passed as the workmen were taking out the old seating and stripping out the interior. No photos of that, sadly.