Legendary lunchtimes… the Spread Eagle, Walmgate, in 1981. Photograph: © deargdoom57 on Flickr
Legendary lunchtimes… the Spread Eagle, Walmgate, in 1981. Photograph: © deargdoom57 on Flickr

York may have preserved its beautiful buildings but it has lost some other things, says a sad Steve Bradley


My Facebook friend Harry is a great writer. He rants a lot about politics (remind you of anyone?) and is so far to the left that if the earth was flat he’d fall off the edge of Alaska.

However, every now and then he must wake up in a good mood and decide to write something that doesn’t start an online politically motivated riot. Today he wrote a list of 20 things he misses. It made for great reading and inspired me to look back over the last 26 years and – seeing as this is YorkMix – list twenty things I miss about York.

So here goes (in no particular order)…

  1. The Arts Centre Great for gigs with the coolest dressing rooms ever. As well as playing there on numerous occasions I saw my first ever York gig (You Slosh) there. Badly let down by the council and now a crappy café-bar.

  2. Red Rhino The best record shop ever. Fact! Many hours were spent trawling through obscure 7-inches and chatting to the friendly and knowledgeable staff. It was a place to hang out as well as spend your dole money. It makes me cringe every time I walk past its final resting place on Goodramgate to see Tesco desecrating the grave.

  3. The Roxy The place to be if you were “alternative” in the Eighties. Dingy, smelly, sleazy and sold crap beer. The perfect nightclub!

  4. The York Arms Back in the day when Sam Smith’s pubs weren’t havens for slightly middle class street drinkers, the “Arms” was the coolest hangout for musos and artists. If you weren’t there you’ll never understand.

  5. Clarence Street Rugby Ground Sunday afternoon at 2pm… the pub is closed… what shall we do? Hey let’s go watch the rugby! Not an option anymore because a trip to Huntington “Stadium” on a Sunday is about as appealing as a knockout night with Stuart Hall.

  6. John “Warlock” Elvidge I don’t know what happened to John. I presume he died. A harmless guy who was a fixture in the Museum Gardens with his dog and his cider. He lived in a shed next to the Theatre Royal for a while too.

  7. The newspaper seller on a Sunday morning outside Jax’s Hair Salon – There was always something special about grabbing a Sunday paper in all weathers while nursing a hangover. The problem was I never actually used to get round to reading it!

  8. Davygate Arcade – Mostly crap shops, apart from Recordmania and Network Music, but a great place to shelter from the rain and talk nonsense with other like minded people. Leading on to…

  9. A revamp for the Davygate Arcade in July 1998. Photograph: City of York Council Archives
    A revamp for the Davygate Arcade in July 1998. Photograph: City of York Council Archives
    St John's Church on Micklegate, once the York Arts Centre. Photograph: © Roger Templeman on geograph
    St John’s Church on Micklegate, once the York Arts Centre. Photograph: © Roger Templeman on geograph
    Gone from Museum Gardens, but not forgotten…  the peacocks. Photograph: © Madison Berndt on Flickr
    Gone from Museum Gardens, but not forgotten… the peacocks. Photograph: © Madison Berndt on Flickr
  10. Wimpy Perfectly situated at the end of Davygate Arcade and for a brief period of our lives a place where the residents of 56 Lord Mayor’s Walk could get free food from the only one of us sensible enough to get a job. He got fired…

  11. 56 Lord Mayor’s Walk My first home/hovel in York. Imagine The Young Ones house and multiply in depravity by 20 and you’re some way to visualising this complete toilet. But it was home.

  12. The peacocks in the Museum Gardens Who stole them? Were they repatriated to Peacockland? I demand to know!

  13. Sunday lunchtime at the Spread Anyone who was there won’t need this explaining. Great music, Yorkshire puddings and 8 pints all squeezed into two hours every Sunday. Legendary!

  14. The John Bull Demolished by Turnbulls (I’ll never buy a Mazda). This still upsets me.

  15. The Spotted Cow On the subject of pubs, the Cow was the place where most York bands started out, AND it had a late drinks licence. Now a tacky Chinese karaoke place.

  16. Independent shops There used to be newsagents, grocers, butchers, fishmongers and bakers everywhere. Now all swallowed up by housing developments and Tesco Express.

  17. FR Stubbs “A better buy on the bridge” says the notice. Now it’s out on James Street Industrial Estate. A bastion of York gone to ruin and replaced by the Piscean version of McDonald’s.

  18. Hoppa Buses The most logical form of public transport in a crowded city. Where are they now? Oh yes, let’s have half-empty bendy buses instead!

  19. Barbican Baths I tried to avoid council-related criticism but it’s impossible to defend the closure of a city centre facility that promoted health and fitness.

  20. York Snooker Centre Thirty-two snooker tables and dodgy management. Bringing London to York. Cor blimey guvnor.

  21. Walpole Street Chippie – A hidden gem that rounded off a perfect Friday night. Go out with a fiver, get drunk and still have enough money for one of each. Now a pizza shop.

I’m sure there are many more places that you fondly remember? Let’s hear about them in the comments section.