21 May 2007
There’s a large amount of redevelopment gone on and still going on in the Layerthorpe and Heworth Green area, and a wander along here to have a look at the changes seemed long overdue, though it’s not the most photogenic part of York, because of all the building work.
I’ve tried to organise this page so it follows roughly the same order as the photos from a previous visit in 2004 – compare this page with York Walks /3: Layerthorpe to Heworth Green.
This building was undergoing work when I photographed it before. It had been a pub – Frog Hall – and still had its signs. Now it’s a pet shop – which seems like a useful thing to have, particularly as the one on Goodramgate has closed in recent years.
I had a wander along Hallfield Road, to look at a new bit of road. The work here, which was completed late last year, has formed a new road link between Layerthorpe and Lawrence Street, by joining up the previously unconnected Hallfield Road and James Street. At least I think that’s what’s happened. I was completely disorientated. The view though can be compared with my 2004 photo – the spire of St Lawrence’s church is visible in both.
The landmark historic chimney is still part of the landscape, thankfully. Here photographed from Layerthorpe, behind what seems to be a new office block.
Morrisons are building a supermarket in the area around the chimney, off Foss Islands Road. They put a planning application in to put MORRISONS in big letters down the side of the chimney. Thankfully it was dismissed as “an appalling idea”.
Some cities have loads of old chimneys like this – but this is our only one, and it shouldn’t be treated like some supermarket’s flagpole. Though they may reapply with this kind of idea? – a pulley system attached so they can hoist up it plastic flags advertising any good “3 for the price of 2″ offers?
Unfortunately the snicket I used last time, to cut through to Heworth Green, is closed, presumably because of the building work, so I had to walk round the long way to reach Heworth Green.
This snicket skirts the old gas works site. The land has been “decontaminated” in recent years, ready for the building work which is now in progress. Gas used to be made here – in the days of “town gas” – and the ground was full of nasties that had leeched into it from that industry. I’m not sure what they do with the foul stuff they dig up – presumably put it somewhere else. But the excavation has apparently left them with handy underground parking spaces for the new development.
When I took photos here before, it was just a load of mud and mess. Now the building work has started, and around the site are ads for the new buildings – some offices, some residential.
The adverts on the hoardings are breathlessly enthusiastic, and I’ve mentioned them elsewhere . . .
It’s so “cool” and “exciting” and “timeless” in there, I was rattling the metal fences desperately, trying to get in.
Over the other side of Heworth Green, not covered on my previous walk here, as there wasn’t anything noticeable. Now, three years on, it’s another building site, obviously partly completed. I don’t really find these attractive, but then the muddy bit in front of them and the site’s fencing doesn’t set them off that well. I feel sympathy for the people living in this area, though, who seem to be surrounded by building sites.
I’ve saved the best until last. At the end of Heworth Green, next to the new Bellway buildings, and opposite the Persimmon site, is Heworth Croft, recently converted as part of the area’s redevelopment. As we can see, it’s a beautifully proportioned Victorian house. It dates from around 1842, and is in an Italianate style, in white brick. They knew how to build them in those days, didn’t they, and it’s good to see it’s been remodelled, rather than demolished. (Shame about the burglar alarms, though – better round the back perhaps?)
The interior has no doubt been divided up, probably not for the first time in its long history, so that the spacious and well-proportioned rooms are probably not so spacious and well-proportioned*. But we don’t have the space now for aesthetics, we just have to get as many people into this city as we possibly can.
* note: Feb 2009 – since writing the above a resident of Heworth Croft has emailed me to clarify that the character of the building has been respected and that “the rooms are still well proportioned and have ample space”.