Cinder Lane and railway lands, 2004 and now

Banner sign

2004: sign announcing ‘New access to York station’

Back in summer 2004, on a couple of occasions, I went for a wander with my camera through the railway lands, via the alleyway from Leeman Road near the back of the railway station. I’m sure many of us are now used to having access to the station from the car park on Leeman Road, but it’s a relatively recent thing, as this photo from 2004 reminds us.

But we’re not going that way, we’re going up part of Cinder Lane. Perhaps surfaced in previous centuries with cinders from The Destructor, now a more smoothly-surfaced pedestrian/cycle route.

From Cinder Lane we can see into the massive area of railway land. It’s not particularly beautiful, but it does have its moments. If you like peeling paint and old rusty things. Which I do.

Shed and rusty railing

Handsome shed and rusty railing

Old signs, old shed

Shed and signage, railway lands

These signs indicate what used to go on here, and possibly some of it still does. It’s not particularly clear what happens here these days, but it has clearly been cleared of some of the things I pictured back in 2004. But not this old shed, with its signs, which is apparently still in use and must be KEPT CLEAR, though the doors look like they’d drop off if you tried to open them, possibly taking the rest of the building with them.

The shed and other decrepit things from 2004 are in a small album of wonky photos I’ve stuck over on Picasaweb/Google in case anyone’s interested.

Railway lands, York, 2004

Also most of the images on this page can be enlarged, should you wish to see more detail. (Though not in this next one, as it’s artistically blurry.)

Weeds and industrial building

Weedy railway land, August 2014

It’s all a bit weedy, though not as full of vigorous shrubbery as it was in 2004. In this area shabby brick workshops have been replaced by grey buildings sitting in a sea of grey rubble-filled dullness.

View of industrial land, part cleared

Railway lands, from Cinder Lane, 2014

From the steps to the footbridge, peering over the wall, it looks generally more dug-up than it did back then.

The most striking change needs a ‘then and now’ comparison. From the Cinder Lane steps, in 2004:

Alley through industrial land

August 2004: Cinder Lane

I liked the smooth curve of the old brick walls, the way the lane seemed to confidently carve its way through the landscape, its curve like the sweep of the railway lines around it.

And now, August 2014:

Alley through industrial landscape

August 2014: Cinder Lane

Nothing aesthetically pleasing at all. Most of the red brick has gone, and the parts that are left have been painted a gloomy black. Is this meant to discourage graffiti, perhaps? It looks much worse than it did before.

The other reason I came down here was to look at a large new building. I took a few photos of it from further down the lane, but once I got to the steps I was concentrating on trying to line up the photo above to match the 2004 one, and also trying to get photos of the area to the Leeman Road side before the light faded completely. When I looked the other way, from this higher vantage point of the steps to the bridge, it was such a contrast. This is what’s on the station side of Cinder Lane:

New building and railway lines

Network Rail building, August 2014

I was there at just the right moment, as the evening sun appeared and lit the place and the lines leading up to it. Wow, I said, aloud, to myself.

Here’s how this land looked in 2004:

Railway land

Weedy railway land, Engineers’ Triangle, 2004

And now:

New building

Network Rail building, Engineers’ Triangle

Only recognisable because of the buildings in the background, the tops of them just visible now over this new addition to the landscape: York Engineers’ Triangle, rail operating and training centre. Regular readers might remember that before the redevelopment of the site the old roundhouse foundations here were open to the public and I went along to look at them, and some rusty old shovels.

While I was gazing on the shiny new thing on the roundhouse site, on the other side of the footbridge the sun was setting over older buildings and waiting freight.

Railway scene, sunset

To the left of the (enlargeable) photo, Acomb’s water tower, the new buildings of Holgate Park and what’s left of the carriageworks. Of which there’s a lot more to say, on later pages currently under construction. (Update: constructed since, on this link and here and all things tagged ‘carriageworks’.)

But for now we’re crossing the footbridge and turning left down Railway Terrace, for the next page.

This page on the Network Rail virtual archive may also be of interest: York South Depot.

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About Lisa @YorkStories

Lisa @YorkStories is the creator, administrator, and writer of content on She can be contacted on this link or via Twitter, @YorkStories
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  1. Cinder Lane used to be one of my regular walks home to Acomb after a Friday night on the ale. There used to be a few bits of anarchist graffiti, near the steps, in bold, white letters back in the late 70s, early 80s: ‘Don’t go to work, there’s too much to do’ and Sabotage works, try it’, were a couple that I remember. Anyone want to own up to it now?

  2. I used to walk down Cinder Lane on my way home from school but mine was the one off Heworth Green. I wonder how many more “Cinder Lanes” there are?

  3. Bill Eastwood

    I used to work in the British Rail District Civil Engineers offices. (Wooden huts). Adjacent to Cinder lane, on the right as you came from the Leeman Road end. This was early 1970’s. It was like a cross between “Are you being served” and a Maharajas court. The engineer was God. His chauffeur used the shed pictured above to store the company car.

  4. Really nice to read the comments above, prompted by this piece, thank you.

  5. Stephen Oxlade

    That tatty old cindered lane ,has such romantic memories for this 91 year old young fella! A long walk,after gloriously happy dance nights out dancing,,with my lass Lilian..Wending my way home from Acomb to Fossway ,that shortcut acroos the railway and River Ouse,in the early hours.
    Her memory’s now faded in a care home ,but mine as technicolor and vivid as ever.

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