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Bishy Road in York: a shopping street in time en

Our walk today is just a short stroll, around 200 yards along the northern end of Bishopthorpe Road, as it approaches the city walls. 

Bishy Road, as it’s known, appears to be an unremarkable cluster of around thirty small shops. But the street is remarkable for its high proportion of independent shops, drawn together by a strong traders’ association and engendering a fierce community spirit and local pride. In 2015 the street achieved GB High St of the Year, beating off competition from hundreds of other shopping streets.

It has a fascinating history. Who knew that two of our former traders took part in a Hollywood film twenty years ago? Or that we used to have two Chinese laundries on the street? Or that one of our traders used to sell pianos and beer? Or that York Teddy Boys used to flock to Bishy Road in the 1980s for their tailoring? 

The walk takes you along the street today, showing you how retail trading has changed over the last 100 years and highlighting some fascinating stories.

If you would like to see how the area developed, here are links to some old mapping, from the National Library of Scotland collection:

Ordnance Survey map published 1853  Here you will see that this area was just fields at this time

The image in the app at this point shows you Skaife’s Map of York from 1864, and by this time the street was almost fully built over.

Ordnance Survey map published 1910 By now the area was fully developed

There is a photo in the app show the street looking north, around 1900, with the tall Co-op buiiding on the left, long since demolished, and Darnborough St on the right hand side.

Other photos show some of the events which have made Bishy road popular: the Tour de France passing through in 2014, the regular Gay Pride procession, and Christmas events.

We’re starting the walk on the corner of Scarcroft Road and Bishy Road, where the green area is shaded by a cherry tree, and there are benches and seats.

Nearby

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