A History of the County of York: the City of York. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1961.
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The important part played by the River Ouse in the local and regional trade of the city has been recognized from the earliest times. (fn. 1) By the 14th century citizens were describing it as a 'highway' of trade coming from all parts of Yorkshire and further afield: and up to this time at least, the city's position on the river enabled it to remain a port even in the official sense. (fn. 2) Some attempts were made, even during the Middle Ages and in the 16th century, to keep the waterway clear of obstruction: these were primarily concerned with removing fish-garths but there were sporadic attempts to clear the river of the silt deposits, known to later ages as 'warp'. (fn. 3)
In the early 17th century, the city, inspired no doubt by the widely acclaimed drainage schemes in England and the Netherlands, attempted to find a more radical solution by making 'cuts' across difficult bends of the river and called in, at great expense, Dutch engineers to give an opinion on the matter. A scheme drawn up by the Dutchmen was laid before the Lord President but gained no support; and advantage was taken of one of James I's visits to York to read to him, as he passed over Ouse Bridge, a poem begging his assistance in making the river navigable. (fn. 4) Between 1621 and 1633 several other schemes failed to come to anything: in the latter year Dutch engineers were again consulted but a project to increase the tides by sluices at Derwent and Wharfe mouths was eventually dropped. (fn. 5)
Various means were tried during the remainder of the 17th century to make the river navigable and to charge tolls upon traffic, but without success. During the first two decades of the 18th century the corporation was cleansing the river from time to time but it was not until 1725 that proposals were brought forward to regularize the administration of navigation. (fn. 6) A Bill was piloted through Parliament by Edward Thompson, one of the city's members, and was finally passed in 1727. (fn. 7) The Act set up a body of trustees drawn from the corporation and its officials. Although legally independent, the trustees operated in practice as a committee of the corporation, using the town clerk as its secretary; (fn. 8) in 1835 the corporation became the trustees under Section 72 of the Municipal Corporations Act. (fn. 9) The Navigation Act also set up a body of commissioners who were to act as arbitrators in case of dispute.
The trustees acquired wide powers under the Act to carry out works on the river; to pay for them, tolls were levied on all goods. Over a period of five years £4,000-£5,000 was spent on works. (fn. 10) In 1732 only £800 of this was still owing, and the annual income was £600. (fn. 11) Power to make cuts was not used, (fn. 12) and the trustees concentrated on reducing the width of the river where there were shoals, so that the current itself would scour a deeper bed. (fn. 13) This policy was successful in some places. At one shoal, for example, there had formerly been only 10 inches of water, and it had been usual to unload vessels and float them over; as a result of the trustees' endeavours, there was a depth of 3 feet at low water, and vessels could pass laden at any time. (fn. 14) At other places, however, shoals remained, since the bed was too hard for the scouring action of the current. (fn. 15)
Nevertheless it was clear from the beginning that the best way of overcoming the shoals was to raise the water level by damming. In 1733 the trustees sought legal opinion upon their ability under the Act to dam the river but were told that the Ouse was navigable and therefore a common highway. (fn. 16) During the next twenty years expert legal and engineering opinion was called upon time and again, (fn. 17) and, although many expedients were tried only one, damming the river, was thought likely to be completely successful. To view their improvements the trustees built themselves a barge in 1733 and three years later painted it and supplied it with sash windows and wainscoting to keep out the weather. (fn. 18)
In 1736 a weir was constructed at Bishopthorpe and in 1741 another, at what seemed the most difficult stretch of the river, at Naburn. (fn. 19) Such works were only palliatives and in 1751 the trustees again sought legal opinion about the erection of a dam and lock. (fn. 20) The objections were evidently now thought to be less serious and in 1752 a committee of the trustees set to work to prepare a scheme. (fn. 21) In August that year they ordered that a lock and dam should be built at Naburn; the construction was delayed by floods and it was not opened until 1757. (fn. 22)
The money to pay for these improvements came, of course, from the dues charged for use of the navigation. (fn. 23) The scale of tolls laid down by the Act of 1727 was simple: 2s. 6d. a ton might be charged on some commodities such as wine, 1s. a ton on others, such as iron; but the general rate was 6d. A new Act was obtained in 1732 which enlarged the 1s. and 2s. 6d. classes and created a new class to be charged at 2s. (fn. 24) In the first year of trading about £660 was received from dues; receipts gradually increased to £758 in 1732 and £824 in 1738. (fn. 25) In this last year the trustees were approached by 'several merchants and citizens' and agreed to halve the dues from the following Christmas. (fn. 26) For the remainder of the century yearly receipts were between £400 and £500. (fn. 27)
The building of Naburn Lock, though it radically changed the appearance of the city's waterway and undoubtedly assisted in the navigation of the river, did not solve all the problems of the trustees. Obstruction to navigation was almost all caused by warp, most particularly by a shoal at Acaster Selby (W.R.). (fn. 28) Between 1757 and the present century most of the attempts to improve the navigation, apart from repairs to towpaths, banks, and staiths, have been concerned with removing shoals and warp. In 1833, for example, the trustees called in Thomas Rhodes, an engineer of Liverpool recommended to them by Telford, and on his advice spent about £10,000 between 1834 and 1835 on improvements and on the purchase of a steam dredger. (fn. 29) The money was raised by mortgaging the tolls to the Exchequer Bill Commissioners. (fn. 30) The trustees' debt was now £16,000; in 1836 the income was £2,111 which would increase to £2,400 by the application of new tolls. A committee of inquiry appointed by the trustees advised them to attempt to clear the debt by increasing tolls so that they might compete with the railways, when the time came, by lowering the rates. (fn. 31)
These reforms in the trustees' affairs were probably overdue. A banqueting house for their use had been built at Naburn at a cost of £2,742 in 1823 when the state of the accounts far from warranted such expenditure. (fn. 32) Moreover little had been done after Naburn lock had been built to maintain the navigation. (fn. 33) The committee of management appointed for three years by the trustees in 1833 (fn. 34) conducted the inquiries which led to Rhodes's improvements and was reappointed when the corporation became the trustees under the Municipal Corporations Act. (fn. 35)
Reform of management was not enough, however. The effect of rail competition was felt very quickly. Tolls were reduced in 1840, (fn. 36) and again in 1851, following the opening of Great Northern traffic. (fn. 37) This did not prevent the average annual number of coal boats from falling from 875 to 445, (fn. 38) and toll receipts from decreasing steadily (see Table 1).
No further improvements of note were undertaken until the 1870's. (fn. 39) River engineers who were consulted at this period all urged that Naburn lock should be rebuilt or extended, but this was not done until 1887; (fn. 40) meanwhile, in 1879, the corporation had purchased a tug and from this time towage has formed no small part of navigation income; more extensive dredging was undertaken with a dredger purchased in the same year. (fn. 41)
The improvements of the 70's and 80's appear to have increased the income a little: in 1884 it exceeded £2,000 for the first time since the 1840's (fn. 42) and by the 90's was reaching £5,000. (fn. 43) About half this sum was derived from towage (fn. 44) and by the end of the century three tugs were plying on the river. (fn. 45) Despite this increase in business, profits were not large, for expenses were high (see Table 2).
With the figures before them the management committee were disinclined to adopt the extensive measures of repair advocated in an elaborate report drawn up by A. Creer, the city engineer. (fn. 46) Creer's report, indeed, was not unanimously accepted and some dissident members of the committee called in another engineer, who, after inspecting the river, told the committee that the only thing to do was to buy an 'eroder'. This was done, and the vessel was named 'Sir Joseph' after the chairman of the committee Sir J. S. Rymer. (fn. 47)
There was little if any improvement in trade up to the outbreak of the First World War when it virtually ceased. (fn. 48) By 1920 trade was improving (fn. 49) and the committee sought to take advantage of Section 3 (1) of the Ministry of Transport Act of 1919 (fn. 50) to increase the tolls. The Ministry inquiry (fn. 51) into the navigation revealed that in 1888 the corporation had entered into an agreement with Henry Leetham & Sons, flour millers, to compound dues on their cargoes on the Ouse for £600 a year. Over the ten years ended 31 March 1920 this had resulted in a loss of dues to the corporation of £15,340. A similar, though even less advantageous, agreement about the Foss Navigation brought the total loss of dues to £29,380. Since it was the corporation's case in seeking an increase of tolls that they had shown a trading loss since 1911, the Ministry naturally asked that the agreements with Leethams should be rescinded. It was then discovered that the agreements might be void on grounds of showing trade preference and they were cancelled. The tolls were then raised (fn. 52) but trade still declined and in 1923 some of the increased toll was remitted. (fn. 53) Leethams had taken the matter to court when the agreements were terminated and had lost their case in 1924: they then threatened to appeal, pleading then, as they had all along, that they only refrained from moving to Hull in 1888 by virtue of the agreements and that they had 'spent huge sums of money on buildings and machinery which [would otherwise] have been invested elsewhere'. In 1925 the matter was settled out of court by the corporation's offer of a new preferential scale of tolls. (fn. 54)
Trade remained quiet for the remainder of the decade. In 1927 the Yorkshire Sugar Co. set up a wharfe at Barlby (E.R.) and from 1928 tolls on the carriage of raw sugar helped to improve the navigation income. (fn. 55) In the trading year 1938-9 dues from tolls and towage amounted to £7,000 and the navigation was able to pay its way. (fn. 56)
Regular passenger services on the river appear to have started in the early 19th century; a steam packet had begun to ply between Hull and York as early as April 1816, within four years of the first commercial steamboat service in Europe. (fn. 57) In 1818 Hargrove listed packets running to Selby and Leeds but said that the Hull steam packet was then 'very uncertain'. (fn. 58) The river improvements of 1833-4 (fn. 59) allowed steamers to ply between York and Hull at any stage of the tide (fn. 60) and thereafter regular passenger services down river by steam packet were available. (fn. 61) In 1836 28,000 passengers are said to have been carried on the river. (fn. 62) Passenger traffic seems to have disappeared by 1876. (fn. 63)
At a late stage in the promotion of the abortive Ouse Navigation Bill of 1725, the corporation decided to petition Parliament for the inclusion of powers to cleanse the Foss. (fn. 64) No such powers, however, were included in the Act of 1727. Writing about ten years later, Drake urged that the Foss should be made navigable and that the mills on the river should be removed to improve navigation. (fn. 65)
The Foss presented quite a different problem from the Ouse: it is a sluggish, winding river with a poor head of water so that even when canalized it frequently lacked sufficient locks of water in a dry season to convey craft farther than Foss Islands. (fn. 66) An Act 'for making and maintaining a navigable communication from the junction of the Foss and Ouse to Stillington Mill' was passed in 1793. (fn. 67) It set up a body of private trustees who began work at once by building a lock at Castle Mills, which they probably finished by the spring of 1794, and by making the short branch known as Wormald's Cut. (fn. 68) The canalization of the river and the construction of a lock on Oulston Moor (N.R.) had been planned by William Jessop, the canal engineer; a Mr. Moon was employed to carry them out. By November 1794 the navigation had been opened up to Monk Bridge and by June of the following year Moon had staked out the line as far as Sheriff Hutton; the reservoir was probably begun in September. In November when six locks had been built and work was still proceeding between Sheriff Hutton and Strensall the trustees called in John Rennie, the engineer and bridge-builder, to make an inspection of the work. He reported that almost everything had been badly done and that the trustees had spent a great deal more money than was necessary. Moon was dismissed in the following year but the trustees had by this time run out of money and for the next five years they engaged in little or no construction work. (fn. 69)
New borrowing powers were obtained under an Act of 1801 (fn. 70) and the navigation was completed to Sheriff Hutton, beyond which, however, it was never taken. The first dividend was paid in 1810: tolls in the first years of operation amounted to only about £280 but by 1809 reached their peak at £1,384; thereafter they declined slowly until they reached £223 in 1853.
The failure of the navigation was no doubt partly attributable to early mismanagement and overexpenditure: severe competition from the York and Scarborough railway ruined it. By 1845 it was silted up and stagnant and the corporation was anxious to take it over and cleanse it. An Act authorizing them to do so was obtained in 1853 (fn. 71) and by a subsequent Act of 1859 (fn. 72) the navigation was abandoned outside the city boundary.
The navigation received a new lease of life by an agreement, similar to that for Ouse Navigation, made with Henry Leetham & Sons in 1888. The corporation rebuilt Castle Mills lock and improved the river up to Leetham's Hungate mills. Thereafter the navigation made a small profit after repaying its capital loan; in 1920 Leetham's vessels constituted five-sixths of the traffic. (fn. 73) Leetham's agreement was revoked and eventually replaced by a new preferential scale under similar conditions to that for the Ouse. The navigation still serves factories and warehouses in the Marsh and Hungate area.
The pattern of roads converging on York is an ancient one, only the road to Malton having been realigned in modern times to replace that following the line of the Roman road through Stockton-onthe-Forest (N.R.). The Boroughbridge, Tadcaster, Stamford Bridge, and Beverley roads all leave the city on the line of Roman predecessors, and the roads to Wetherby, Selby, Northallerton, and Helmsley are of at least medieval foundation.
As early as the 14th and 15th centuries York merchants occasionally made gifts towards the improvement of roads and bridges around the city, (fn. 74) and the corporation was, in the Middle Ages, responsible for the upkeep of those roads as far as the boundary of the liberty of the city. (fn. 75) That responsibility was retained in the 18th century when turnpike trusts were established for eight of the roads into York: the city was bound to clean and repair the Northallerton road as far as Burton Stone Lane, (fn. 76) the Malton road from Monk Bridge to Monk Stray, (fn. 77) the Tadcaster road as far as Hob Moor Lane End, (fn. 78) the Helmsley road to the Horsefair, (fn. 79) and the Boroughbridge road as far as Holgate Bridge; (fn. 80) and it was almost certainly with the Kexby Bridge turnpike in mind that an assessment was laid on the parishioners for the repair of roads in St. Nicholas's parish in 1759. (fn. 81) These stretches of road were, moreover, improved by the city in accordance with the work of the trusts beyond the city boundary; in 1757, for example, the corporation engaged William Adcock, a gardener, to widen and remake their section of the Boroughbridge road 'after the manner of a turnpike road': he was to take up the old causeway, lay a foundation of cobbles that was to be 5 yards wide and 1 foot deep, and cover the foundation with a similar thickness of gravel. (fn. 82)
The corporation took an active interest in the turnpike schemes, largely through the city's M.P.s, but sought to modify them by keeping the nearest toll-gates some miles beyond the city boundary: the trusts were thus bound to maintain stretches of road in the immediate vicinity of the city from which they could collect no tolls. The corporation had representatives on most of the trusts, but they were unable to prevent a tendency for the gates to be moved closer to the city with successive renewals of the trusts' powers.
The first local turnpike scheme, that for the road from Hob Moor Lane End to Tadcaster Bridge, originated in a conference between landed proprietors of The Ainsty and members of the corporation. (fn. 83) By the Act of 1745 trustees, including city representatives, were empowered to erect a single gate not less than three miles from York. (fn. 84) In 1752-5 the trust was already working at a loss. (fn. 85) The powers of the trustees were confirmed in 1771, (fn. 86) and in 1792. (fn. 87) They were again confirmed in 1808, when it was provided that not more than three-quarters of the increased tolls were to be taken at the existing gate near Tadcaster, the remainder to be collected at a new gate erected anywhere on the road. (fn. 88) When tolls were again increased in 1814, the new gate was said to be at Dringhouses where one-third of the tolls might in future be taken. (fn. 89) The trustees' powers were confirmed in 1833, (fn. 90) and subsequently by the annual Turnpike Acts Continuance Acts until 1872. (fn. 91) By 1820 the trust had become heavily in debt. (fn. 92)
A trust for the York-Boroughbridge road was established in 1750 with city representatives as ex officio members. (fn. 93) One or more gates were authorized anywhere on the road, despite the corporation's desire that none should be within four miles of the city. (fn. 94) When tolls were increased in 1771 the trustees were forbidden to erect a gate nearer to York than the existing one, (fn. 95) and when still higher tolls were authorized in 1797 that gate was said to be at the end of Poppleton Lane. (fn. 96) Thenceforth, only half the tolls were to be collected there, the remainder at a new gate at least five miles in the direction of Boroughbridge. Tolls were again raised in 1818, (fn. 97) and the trust's powers were subsequently extended by the Continuance Acts until 1870. (fn. 98)
The York to Scarborough trust was established in 1752, when the corporation's wish that no gate should be allowed within five miles of the city was fulfilled. (fn. 99) By 1768 a debt of £8,000 was said to have been incurred and a fresh Act was sought, although the first had not expired. A gate was consequently authorized at any point up to a mile and a half from Monk Bar, but not more than one-tenth of the toll chargeable between Monk Bridge and Newton Gate was to be collected there, and citizens were allowed certain exemptions—when carting hay, for example. (fn. 100) These special provisions were confirmed in 1798 and 1820. (fn. 101) In 1833, however, the restriction on the siting of gates was removed. (fn. 102) The trustees' powers were confirmed by the Continuance Acts until 1865, and were to expire in 1866. (fn. 103)
After an unsuccessful attempt to turnpike the York-Northallerton road in 1749, (fn. 104) the scheme was revived in 1752 when the city sought that no gate should be nearer to York than the north end of Skelton, and that the section of the road nearer York should be repaired first. (fn. 105) The road was said to be used for the carriage of butter and Cleveland linen to York, where most of it was sold, and by the carrier from Darlington. (fn. 106) The trust was established in 1753 with corporation representatives as ex officio members; the city gained the desired restriction upon gates, but the trustees' responsibility was to extend to Burton Stone Lane. (fn. 107) The trust was renewed in 1778, 1794, 1808, 1830, and subsequently by the Continuance Acts until 1874; it was to be wound up in 1875. (fn. 108)
In 1764, the corporation promoted a bill for three turnpikes: from York to Grimston Smithy and Kexby Bridge; from Grimston Smithy to the top of Garrowby Hill; and from Grimston Smithy to Elvington Bridge. (fn. 109) The trust established in the following year, with city representatives as ex officio members, was empowered to repair the first and second of these roads, but not the third; no limit was set on the number or position of gates. (fn. 110) These powers were renewed in 1786, 1807 and 1827, and subsequently by the Continuance Acts until 1872. (fn. 111)
A proposal made in 1767 for a turnpike from the south end of The Horsefair to the top of Oswaldkirk Bank (near Helmsley) (fn. 112) was supported by the corporation on condition that there should be no gate nearer to the city than the north end of Clifton. (fn. 113) The proposal was renewed in the following year and a trust established with corporation representatives as ex officio members; the nearest gate to the city was not to be more than 250 yards within the north end of Bootham Stray—rather closer than the city had desired. (fn. 114) The tolls were increased in 1789 but an exception was made for Bootham Stray Gate or any other which might be erected nearer to the city. (fn. 115) This restriction was removed in 1804 (fn. 116) and that on the number and position of gates in 1825. (fn. 117) The trustees' powers were subsequently renewed by the Continuance Acts until 1877, when it was ordered that only £200-£220 was to be spent annually on repairs until the trust expired in 1881. (fn. 118)
The road from York to Wetherby and Collingham was turnpiked in 1771, when it was stated that this would benefit the city's corn market. The trust did not include members of the corporation, but the erection of a gate within three miles of the city was prohibited. (fn. 119) The trustees' powers were renewed in 1792 and 1813, and again in 1826 when the restriction on the position of gates was removed. The trust was continued until 1875. (fn. 120)
The turnpike roads carried an increasing number of coach service to and from the city. A thriceweekly service between London and York had been established by 1658, (fn. 121) and several local services were inaugurated during the 18th century; (fn. 122) but the greatest increase took place in the early 19th century, the number of services rising from 14 in 1796 to 36 in 1823 (see Table 3). Most of these were daily services.
The London to York coach still took four days for the journey in the mid-18th century, as it had done in the mid-17th (see Table 4). The substantial reduction effected in the 1760's and 70's was probably the result of the general introduction of turnpikes and of a new type of coach known as the 'flying machine'. A further reduction apparently resulted from the use of the mail coach; a demand for a mail coach service was voiced at a public meeting in York in 1784, (fn. 123) and John Palmer, the mail coach pioneer, was made a freeman of the city in 1787 for his part in getting the 'great North Mail' to pass daily through the city. (fn. 124) In the 1820's York resisted successive attempts to accelerate the London to Edinburgh mail by diverting the coaches from the city. (fn. 125) The London to York journey was shortened in the early 19th century, no doubt as a result of the new methods of road construction introduced by Telford and McAdam, but the first train service of 1840 cut a further six hours off the journey and the London to Edinburgh mail coach ceased to run in 1842. (fn. 126) Local services were less quickly superseded: 13 still ran in 1846, 4 in 1851, and 1 in 1867. (fn. 127)
The chief coaching inns in York were the York Tavern (St. Helen's Square), and the 'Black Swan' (Coney Street), (fn. 128) most of the mail coaches favouring the York Tavern. The George Inn (Coney Street) enjoyed a monopoly of the posting business, and Etteridge's Hotel (Lendal) provided horses for private carriages. Other coaching inns were the 'White Horse' (Coppergate), the 'White Swan' (Pavement), the 'Elephant and Castle' (Skeldergate), the 'Commercial' (Nessgate), the 'Robin Hood' (Castlegate), the 'Pack Horse' (Micklegate), the 'Old Sand Hill' (Colliergate), and the 'Golden Lion' (near Monk Bar). (fn. 129)
The turnpike roads also carried large numbers of carriers' carts. Although their number before the late 18th century is unknown, carriers must have fulfilled an important function for York as a market centre from at least the 14th century. (fn. 130) In 1796 49 carrying services were operated from York inns and warehouses, (fn. 131) and in 1823 140 services were run from 5 warehouses and 25 inns—notably the 'Elephant and Castle', the 'King's Arms' (Foss Bridge), the 'White Horse', the 'White Swan', and the 'Pack Horse'. The more distant routes, to all parts of the country, were mostly handled by the warehouses, while local carriers, many of them also poulterers, used the inns. (fn. 132) A large number of carriers has continued to operate between York and the surrounding countryside. (fn. 133)
Within the city the earliest public passenger transport was provided by the chairmen and hackney coachmen; in 1763 they were obliged to be licensed and their fares were regulated. (fn. 134) Horse-buses had begun to run in the city before 1841, (fn. 135) but they were generally replaced by trams towards the end of the century. With the support of the corporation the York Tramways Company was formed in 1879 and a line from Castle Mills Bridge to Fulford was opened in October 1880; horse-buses provided a link between the centre of the city and the bridge. After the experimental use of a steam tram for the first few months, horses provided the sole source of power. In 1881-2 the line was extended by way of Tower Street, Clifford Street, Ouse Bridge, and Micklegate to The Mount, with a branch along Railway Street and Rougier Street to the New Railway Station.
The tramway system was in 1886 taken over by the newly formed City of York Tramways Company, and in 1909 by the corporation who began a programme of expansion and electrification later the same year. An electric tram service was opened from Fulford to the city centre line in January 1910; the line from the city centre to Dringhouses was electrified soon after, following a new route by way of the New Railway Station, thus avoiding Micklegate, and with a short spur to Holgate Bridge; and the Haxby Road and Acomb routes were constructed at the same time, involving the strengthening of Lendal Bridge and the reconstruction of the Holgate railway bridge. Lines were opened from the New Railway Station to South Bank in 1913, and along Hull Road in 1916 when the Haxby Road line was also extended. The system was then at its greatest length, measuring nearly 8½ miles compared with the three miles of the earlier horse-tramways.
The trams were not challenged by buses until 1914, the city having rejected an offer of Thomas Tilling to run petrol-electric buses in the city in 1909. In 1914 the corporation was authorized to introduce both motor- and trolley-buses, and by 1921 it was necessary to supplement the tram depot which had been built at Fulford in 1880 with a bus depot in Piccadilly. In 1931 a new bus garage was built adjoining the Fulford depot, and the Piccadilly depot was leased to a private firm. From their introduction in 1915 the buses were run at an annual loss but this was counterbalanced by the tramway profits; in 1926 there were only 15 buses and 4 trolley-buses compared with 37 trams. From 1929 onwards, however, all the corporation services increasingly felt the competition of private bus companies which served new suburbs beyond the limit of the tramways. Eventually, in 1932, the corporation opened negotiations with the West Yorkshire Road Car Company, a subsidiary of the L.N.E.R. which had absorbed most of the small companies operating in the York area. In April 1934 a joint committee of the corporation and the company was established to operate services within the city and on a number of routes outside. After 1935 these services were provided by buses alone: the trolley-buses were withdrawn in January and the trams in November that year. The agreement between corporation and company was subject to termination by two years' notice by either party, but the joint committee continued to administer the city's bus services in 1958. (fn. 136)
Since the early days of railway construction, York has been an important centre not only of routes but of railway administration; it was, in particular, the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway throughout the company's existence (1854-1923). (fn. 137) York has, moreover, attracted many ancillary railway activities, from carriage-building to archive collection. A major part in this development was played by the city's 'railway king', George Hudson; (fn. 138) he it was who became the first chairman of the York & North Midland Company which was formed in 1835 and incorporated in 1836.
The city's first line was constructed by the Y.N.M. from Normanton, where it connected with lines to London and Leeds; it was built in three stages, the first opened in May 1839, the second in May 1840, and the third in July 1840. The opening of the Hull & Selby Company's line, also in 1840, extended rail communication from York to Hull. A temporary station in Queen Street was used until the Old Railway Station was built inside the city walls near Tanner Row. In 1840 the journey from York to London took 14 hours, but this was reduced to 10 hours 20 minutes in 1841 (fn. 139) and to 6 hours 10 minutes in 1848. (fn. 140)
Meanwhile the Great North of England Company had been formed in Darlington to build a line from Newcastle to York, joining the Y.N.M. line outside the city walls. The new line was opened early in 1841. The Y.N.M. carried over 84,000 passengers during the first seven months (fn. 141) and in 1844 the company was authorized to construct a line to Scarborough. The position at York was already complicated because through traffic was using a station that was built as a terminus, but it was greatly worsened when the Scarborough line was built because the G.N.E. insisted that it should join their Newcastle line and not cross it to reach the station independently. (fn. 142) The necessary manœuvres were possible only because traffic was light: only eighteen trains ran from York daily in 1845. (fn. 143)
Two further lines were built in the 1840's. The Y.N.M. was empowered in 1846 to construct a branch from the Scarborough line to Market Weighton and Beverley; the York to Market Weighton section was opened in 1847, but it was not extended to Beverley until 1865. In 1848 a line from Knaresborough to York, joining the G.N.E. line outside the city, was opened by the East & West Yorkshire Junction Company, formed in 1846.
The early route from York to London, by way of Normanton and terminating at Euston, remained in use until 1850 when the York line was connected with the Great Northern Railway; and in 1852 the London terminus became King's Cross. As a result of these changes the journey took only five hours. (fn. 144) The London route was further improved in 1871 by the opening of a line from Chaloner's Whin Junction (near York) to Selby and Doncaster. The YorkLeeds route had similarly been improved by the opening of a new line in 1869. Normal traffic at York had from the earliest days been supplemented by excursions: members of the Leeds Mechanics Institute travelled to York as early as June 1840, (fn. 145) and subsequently excursions were run from farther and farther afield.
Traffic developed steadily during the later 19th century. In 1863 the number of passengers travelling annually to London alone was estimated at 341,000, (fn. 146) and in July 1870 58 trains entered and 55 left York Station each weekday. (fn. 147) By 1898 an average of 3,200 passengers used the station daily during the summer and 1,650 in the winter, (fn. 148) and in the same year seven companies were running services to York. (fn. 149)
Only two further additions were made to the lines radiating from York: the Foss Islands branch was opened in 1879, and the Derwent Valley Light Railway in 1912. After it had bought the Foss Navigation in 1853, the corporation sought, without success, to persuade the N.E.R. to build a branch line across the Foss Islands district to Walmgate Bar. (fn. 150) The services of such a line were increasingly needed both for the cattle market and by industrial undertakings on the eastern side of the city, and the scheme was eventually authorized in 1874. (fn. 151) The 1¾-mile line was opened in December 1879, running from the Y.N.M.'s Scarborough line north of the city to an extensive goods station near Walmgate Bar. (fn. 152) The Derwent Valley Light Railway runs from the Foss Islands branch at Layerthorpe, where a station was built, to join the Selby-Market Weighton Line; it was opened for goods and livestock in 1912 and for passengers in 1913. By 1916 passenger traffic from villages along the Derwent was declining because of competition from bus services, and although petrol rail motor buses were introduced in 1924 the line was closed for passenger traffic in 1926. It was still used for goods traffic in 1958. (fn. 153)
Amalgamation of the original companies greatly increased York's importance as an administrative centre. Hudson's Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway Company absorbed the G.N.E. in 1846 and took the new name of the York and Newcastle Railway. This in turn absorbed another of Hudson's companies, the Newcastle and Berwick, in 1847 and became the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway. Until Hudson's fall in 1849 the Y.N.B. was closely linked with the Y.N.M. by his chairmanship of both. Finally, in 1854, the Y.N.B. became the North Eastern Railway with a number of other companies, including the Y.N.M., under its control. York was the headquarters of the N.E.R. until it became part of the L.N.E.R. in 1923; the city remained an important centre, and in 1948 became the headquarters of the North Eastern Region of British Railways.
The Old Railway Station within the city walls was designed by the York architect G. T. Andrews (fn. 154) and the Y.N.M.'s engineer Thomas Cabrey. The site, formerly occupied by the Dominican Friary and latterly by nursery gardens, was selected in 1838; and Lady Hewley's Hospital and the House of Correction were acquired for demolition. (fn. 155) Plans for a bookingoffice block facing Tanner Row, to cost about £7,900, a refreshment room, and a train shed were approved in 1840. (fn. 156) The novelty of building the shed in iron and glass caused considerable delay and the station was not opened until January 1841. (fn. 157) The principal front, facing Tanner Row, was 180 feet long and built of polished stone in the Italian style. Access between the platforms was provided across the head of the tracks, this being one of the earliest stations in the world to possess such a facility. (fn. 158) The train shed was also of an advanced size and design: it measured 300 by 100 feet and had a roof of cast iron and glass, supported by cast-iron columns. (fn. 159)
The station was built at the joint expense of the Y.N.M. and the G.N.E., but the former played a leading part in the negotiations: it was a York company; Hudson, its chairman, was a leading member of the corporation; much of the land required was corporation property; and permission was needed to pierce the city walls. Agreement was reached by the end of 1838, the G.N.E. agreeing to pay £5,000 for a joint interest in the site. Although the station was to be used for passenger traffic only, the Y.N.M. was to use the joint line for other purposes and to build a goods depot within the walls; the G.N.E.'s depot would be outside. The G.N.E.'s coal depot was, in fact, later built on land purchased from the Y.N.M.; (fn. 160) it was designed by Andrews, who also planned the enlargement of North Street Postern to give better access to the depot. (fn. 161)
Certain alterations were needed to the street layout in the vicinity of the station, notably the construction of Railway Street (originally called Hudson Street) between Micklegate and Tanner Row; the Y.N.M. received £1,000 from the City Commissioners towards this work. (fn. 162) The Y.N.M. also constructed a new road across its land between Tanner Row and Tanner's Moat, and the G.N.E. paid £1,000 for the right to use it. (fn. 163) Finally, the G.N.E. paid £500 to the corporation for permission to make a new road to its coal depot through North Street Postern. (fn. 164)
Modifications in the original layout of the station followed the increase in traffic. A second arch was pierced through the city wall after the opening of the Scarborough line in 1845. (fn. 165) By 1851 three additional platforms had been built, and trains could be mounted at five other points near the station. (fn. 166) The train shed had been extended to cover the new platforms by 1861. (fn. 167) Finally, the Y.N.M. and the Y.N.B. (which had replaced the G.N.E.) (fn. 168) decided to build an hotel across the head of the lines to link the two existing blocks of the station. Andrews was the architect, and despite strong opposition from the licensed victuallers of the city, the hotel was opened in February 1853. (fn. 169)
The facilities of the Old Station were increasingly strained by growing traffic, (fn. 170) but its cramped site made adequate enlargement impossible. (fn. 171) The first of the extra platforms beyond Holgate Bridge was authorized in 1860, and they were in use before 1866. (fn. 172) In 1865, however, the N.E.R. decided to build an entirely new station outside the walls which would be able to handle through traffic. (fn. 173) The work was authorized in 1866 but delayed by financial difficulties, and the station was not opened until June 1877. (fn. 174) The building was designed by three successive architects to the N.E.R.: the original plan by Thomas Prosser was modified by Benjamin Burley and William Peachey.
The station was then the largest in the country, and its chief feature was a curved train shed covering the four lines for through traffic. The roofed part of the station measured 800 by 234 feet, and its main platform was 1,500 feet long. (fn. 175) The present Station Hotel was built as part of the project and designed by Peachey; it was opened in 1878 and extended in 1882. (fn. 176) The most important additions to the station itself were platforms built before 1909 and between 1938 and 1941. (fn. 177)
Again, changes were made in the street layout in the station area. To give access to the New Station, two further arches were pierced in the city wall through which roads led to the old Thief Lane, which was renamed Station Road and Station Avenue. The continuation of Thief Lane into Bishops Fields was diverted and improved to provide access to the new coal and lime depots; and after the erection in 1885 of the statue of George Leeman, deputy-chairman and chairman of the N.E.R. from 1855 to 1880, it was renamed Leeman Road. Alterations to the lines made it necessary to rebuild the bridge which carried the Scarborough line across the Ouse; and the level crossing in Queen Street was replaced by a bridge. (fn. 178)
The more important of the ancillary developments in the city are the railway offices, works, institute, museum, and archive repository. The first offices, those of the Y.N.M., were situated under the subscription library in St. Leonard's Place; the G.N.E. subsequently built offices at its own expense and for its own use over the booking-office block of the old railway station. A decision to build additional offices was taken in 1857 after the formation of the N.E.R. When the hotel at the New Station was opened in 1878, the old hotel and the Old Station itself were used as offices. Offices facing the Old Station were opened in 1906 and on nationalization became the headquarters of the North-Eastern Region of British Railways. (fn. 179)
The Y.N.M. decided to build a locomotive repair shop in Queen Street in 1842. Later some locomotives were actually built there, but in 1905 the works were closed as part of the N.E.R.'s plan to concentrate locomotive construction elsewhere. In 1862 there had also been permanent-way works at York. (fn. 180) More important were the carriage and wagon works. Small carriage repair shops were built in Queen Street in 1839, and wagon shops at Holgate were begun in 1865 and extended in 1875. The erection of larger premises began in 1880 following a decision to concentrate more carriage construction at York. The works were extended in 1896-7 and covered 45 acres in 1910. A new coach-building shop was built in 1945 and the works covered 62 acres in 1958. (fn. 181)
Shortly after its formation the N.E.R. established a library and reading-room, probably in a house in Queen Street where they were situated in 1872. This accommodation had become inadequate by 1883 when the N.E.R. was said to employ almost 4,000 in the city, and the Railway Institute's present building in Queen Street was opened in 1889. (fn. 182)
A Railway Centenary Exhibition was held in York in 1925 and its success prompted the opening of a Railway Museum in 1928. The Museum came under the control of the British Transport Commission's Curator of Historical Relics in 1953 and was subsequently reorganized as a north-east regional collection. (fn. 183)
An airfield was opened in 1936 after the corporation had bought about 163 acres of land in Clifton Without and Rawcliffe parishes for the purpose in 1934. The Yorkshire Aviation Services Country Club Limited, which was allowed to use the airfield for its own flying activities, acted as agents for the corporation in the management of the project. Although an air taxi service was operated, no scheduled passenger flights were made. (fn. 184) The airfield was requisitioned in 1939 and its chief wartime use was as an aircraft repair depot. (fn. 185) Several industrial undertakings were established at the airfield after the war, notably the manufacture of shock absorbers by Armstrong Patents Company Limited who occupied three of the hangars in 1949. (fn. 186) The airfield was derequisitioned in 1955; despite its proximity to the city centre and the demands of housing, the corporation has maintained the intention to re-establish it as a civic airport. The site remained derelict in 1958. (fn. 187)