York’s ‘ugliest building’ will soon be reborn as a stunning three-storey bar

London bar Mr Fogg's Tavern was one of the inspirations for the new York pub

One of York’s least lovely buildings is about to undergo an amazing transformation.

On Monday work will begin to turn the 1960s-built three storey corner building in Jubbergate into a traditional pub.

Once the work is complete it will have been given an elegant and timeless new look. And it will offer some brilliant views over the city to drink in with your pint.

If that wasn’t good enough news, one of the partners behind the new bar is the Pivovar group – the team which has already brought us some of the best new bars in the city.

Perfect location

This will become the new pub. Photographs: YorkMix
Pivovar – who run Pivni, the York Tap and Pavement Vaults – has teamed up with Peak District brewer Thornbridge to create the bar.

It is one of two projects they are currently working on under joint company Thornbridge & Co, the other being a new pub in Birmingham.

The corner location on Jubbergate was perfect – it reminded them of one of their favourite pubs in London, Mr Fogg’s Tavern.

“Essentially what we want to be is an eatery and a pub on the market. I think it will be a very traditional, London-esque style corner pub,” said Pivovar MD Jamie Hawksworth.


Unlike their other York venues, it doesn’t come with Grade II listing and the restrictions that brings.

“Anyone who knows York well enough would agree that it’s probably the ugliest building in York. It adds absolutely no charm to anything,” Jamie said.

But that’s before their work to turn it into a place with “really comfortable, high-end surroundings”. Planning documents state:

  • The plans for the pub and restaurant hope to attract more people to the shopping area of York which all helps towards the city’s economy.

    Beautiful shop fronts and signage help people choose where they would like to go as well as enhancing the streetscape.

It is due to open in the first week of December.

Traditional but quirky

This is how it will look – although the name is now the Market Porter
The group already has permission to turn the shop into a bar, and the go-ahead from licensing to run it from 11.30am-11.30pm daily.

Now they are seeking permission from City of York Council to give the exterior a Georgian-style makeover.

Timber-framed glazed doors on the ground floor would come with plants in a trough above. The aluminium windows would be replaced with wooden framed ones and the brickwork would be painted.

The working name for the pub was The Minister’s Cat – named after a Victorian parlour game – but it’s actually going to be called the Market Porter.

“It will be very traditional – but with a quirky edge to it,” Jamie said.

There will be a curved central bar on the ground floor. The kitchen will be next to a dining area on the first floor, with booths looking out of the windows on the top floor.

The interior will feature “timber clad ceilings, a lot of leather, traditional wooden bars, mirrors on the walls”.

‘Astonishing views’

Drinkers will see York laid before them from the upper floor windows
One of the best things about the Market Porter will be what you can see from inside. Jamie said:

  • It’s breathtaking when you go on the first and second floors.

    On the first floor you’ve got a view straight over the market stalls. You get all the top of the canopies and it looks straight down towards the gable ends of the Shambles.

    Then you go up to the second floor. You have views across the rooftops that look straight across to the Rose Window of the Minster.

    It’s probably the best view of the Minster in town – it’s astonishing.

    For a place to show off York, this is the one.

The elevation facing the main Shambles Market
He said the venue hadn’t worked in its previous incarnations – including as a pawnbroker’s and a Greggs. Currently it is home to Watkinsons Shoes, which is transferring business to its main shop on Goodramgate.

But it would be a great spot for all the generations to socialise and relax. And it is on the site of an old York inn, the Waggon And Horses.

The food offering would be pizza and traditional pub fare. Around 60% of the beer would come from the “amazing” Thornbridge range, with other stand-out ales on offer.

“There are a lot of good gins and spirits out there that are a must, that we have to sell. You’ve got to keep up with the times,” Jamie added.

Future roof terrace?

One of Thornbridge’s other bars – this one in the Netherlands
The flat roof of the building, enclosed on two sides, would make for a perfect roof terrace.

“It’s an aspiration,” Jamie said. “To put one in now would be a bit daft because it’s the winter months.

“If we can prove, from a licensing perspective, that we’re responsible enough to operate a roof terrace there – we have to save it as an aspiration.”

And he pointed out that, on sunny days, the doors on the front will open out onto the market. Jamie added:

  • It’s very much a pub for York people.

    Tourists come and go through the city. It’s the bars that have got the after-work crowd in on a weekday, the girls who come and have coffees – you need to have that Monday to Thursday to underpin your business.

    Everyone’s tried the café-bar culture. If I want a breakfast I’ll go to Bills or a breakfast restaurant. If I want a pint I’ll go to a nice pub. I don’t mix the two together.