The ancient city of York draws in millions of visitors every year. With streets packed with historic buildings, a large local population and a nationally renowned Railway Museum, it’s no wonder footage of the city has been recorded many times through the past century.
York down the years by the Yorkshire Film Archive
Posted to YouTube by TheYorkMix
This short film, made by York-based Yorkshire Film Archive (YFA), was made for Yorkshire Day 2019.
Archive footage from across many different decades and locations, pulled together for a snapshot of city events over the past century and more.
City Of York (1930-1939)
Posted to YouTube by British Pathé
In the 1930s, Pathetone visited the ‘City of the Legions’. You’ll be struck by how quiet the streets and walls are.
- Clifford’s Tower, the now-ruined keep of the medieval Norman castle
- Walmgate Bar, built at the time of King Edward I (Reign: 20 November 1272 – 7 July 1307)
- The Shambles, mentioned in the Domesday Book (completed 1086)
- The city walls, built between the Roman Era and the 14th Century
- The Cathedral of St Peter, known as York Minster
- The River Ouse
Piccadilly In York (1938)
Posted to YouTube by British Pathé
This footage starts with the busy roundabout at the statue of Eros in Piccadilly, London. Then it transfers to Piccadilly in York.
“That’s why you’re gazing all goggle eyed at Piccadilly, York” observes the commentary.
We see the city walls, and the medieval gateway he says is known as the Fisherman’s Foster. Then we see an older married couple outside their home above the 750 year old city arch in Castle House. The English and French coat of arms sits near their window. What a shame the cameraman didn’t film inside!
York in 1970, UK in HD from 35mm
Posted to YouTube by thekinolibrary
Lovely crisp images filmed on a sunny day from several city centre locations. The Mayor and other dignitaries process outside the Minster. Lots of people turned out to watch the River Pageant, which transfers to land.
When you see the costumed dancers on the street, look out for the granny with a megaphone! More entertaining dancing, this time in a cellar, thanks to the enthusiastic man in a jacket and the women wearing giant floppy hats.
1970s York | Yorkshire | The city of York | Wish you were here? | 1979
In 1979, Judith Chalmers visited the city for an episode of ‘Wish You Were Here’.
Posted to YouTube by ThamesTv
She starts at the North York Moors National Park, just outside Helmsley, to take in the beautiful rural landscape. In Helmsley itself, every single pedestrian in the market square has somehow manoevered their destination near the camera. All the cars seem tiny. The police station is already a cafe, showing how early the loss of local bobbies occurred.
Next she has a look at Rievaulx Abbey. Then she visits the Rievaulx Gliding Club, whose club membership ranged from 12 to 73 year olds and was 80% male. A one week gliding course cost £50-£60 and the one week of full board was £66 low season and £76 high season.
The Perpendicular-style 15th century church of St Michael’s in Coxwold is next. Then a quick glance at Hutton le Hole before stopping at the 300 year old Coachman Inn at Snainton, whose selling point seems to be that it was part of the Useful Voucher scheme! Next she’s at Castle Howard – which doesn’t take vouchers.
Just when you think she’s never actually going to get to York, the city finally appears. At the end of the 1970s, 2.5 million people a year visited the historic city, so Judith recommends avoiding the crowds by visiting out of season. By 2018 annual visitor numbers had risen to 6.9 million people.
York Minster, the city walls, and Kirkgate in the Castle Museum all appear.
An offseason weekend stay at the Royal Station Hotel, including bed, breakfast, ‘service’ and second class return rail fare from London, costs £27.80. No, there are no missing zeros in that sentence! However, there was VAT on top of that, in the days before the stated price must include all costs.
The group gathered for the ghost walk looks hilarious, all dressed up in big ties, cravats, and flares.
YORK (8mm, early 1980s)
Posted to YouTube by GuildfordGhost
Digitised from an old reel bought on ebay, here’s the city packed with tourists and holidaymakers which are a world away from the scenes of the 1930s.
It’s a shame the focus was slightly out, especially when recording the information points. However,
The final few moments are at the railway station, but it looks like a heritage train.
The streets of York in 1988
Posted to YouTube by Russell Webster
By the time this video was made in 1988, the medieval streets could no longer cope with the demands of cars, vans and pedestrians.
Hundreds of people appear, going about their daily lives, working, or just hanging out. I can’t imagine the creepy mime artist was a hit with children though. And how did we not realise how funny police cars looked back in the ’80s?
Other pages about North Yorkshire
- Old images of Whitby, North Yorkshire
- Old images of Redcar, North Yorkshire
- Historic York In Old Images