Dining, dancing, drinking, shopping: York, 1973

As previously mentioned, I’ve a small pile of publications bought at the Barbican Bookshop closing down sale. Mainly guidebooks, dating from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

They were basically the last remaining remnants of a once well-stocked ‘York’ shelf of secondhand books. Plus some I found in a box on the floor in the corner. I thought I’d rescue them, and share these glimpses of a York many of us remember. These ads are from a 1973 guide.

Hand drawn ad

Ad for Leak and Thorp department store, York, 1973

First up, Leak and Thorp, and this fab hand-drawn advert of their Coney Street shop. (Now home to Next, Monsoon and River Island. Google Street View)

Back then you could get ‘almost everything’ at Leak and Thorp’s, and even get your hair done. ‘Hairdo’ must have been a relatively new and unfamiliar term, the inverted commas around it suggest.

1970s advert

Harlequin Restaurant, York, 1973 advert

The Co-op, as I recall, was also a massive store, and it too had a restaurant. We must have had far lower expectations back in the 70s – the ‘clean and pleasant surroundings’ are emphasised.

Advert, 1970s

Ad for the White Swan Hotel, Piccadilly, 1973

Hey, it’s an ad from the days when the White Swan on Piccadilly was open, way back long ago. The listing in the same publication sheds a little more light on what went on in the White Swan before its decades-long closure. Its ‘Tartina Restaurant’ was an Italian pizza bar and coffee house, offering speciality pizzas. In 1973 you could get your lunch here for 95p, and dinner for £1.15.

1970s ad

Advert for the Viking Hotel, York, 1973

The Viking Hotel, as many of us knew it as for years, though it’s now a Park Inn. That huge building next to the river, on North Street. It was built in 1968, so was quite new when advertised here, in the 1973 guide. It boasted a ‘fine collection of ship ephemera’.

1970s ad

Ad for Old World Club, York, 1973

After admiring the ship ephemera and the river views you might have fancied a dance. You could pop down to the Old World to get down to the latest tunes, like, er, Get Down, by Gilbert O’Sullivan, and other hits of 1973. Bands like Slade, Wizzard, Deep Purple, The Sweet, songs like ‘Nutbush City Limits’ and ‘Radar Love’. Alongside these memorable musical highlights drifted a river of rather mournful-sounding ballads – Daydreamer/The Puppy Song by David Cassidy doesn’t sound like something you’d be strutting your stuff to on the Old World dance floor. Perhaps something you’d sit in a dark corner and cry to, over a glass of Liebfraumilch.

1970s ads

Ad for the Willow Restaurant, York, 1973

The Old World Club is long gone. But The Willow is still there, on Coney Street, just like it was in 1973. Back then it was above Richard Shops, which as I recall was a women’s fashion store. ‘Continental fashions’ could be found at the ‘Pussycat Boutique’ on nearby Stonegate.

And finally – nothing to do with York particularly, but in the same 1973 guide, and I just had to share it with you, dear readers, as it’s so very 1970s in so many ways.

1970s advert

‘Give her Golden Guinea’. 1970s ad

For younger readers I should perhaps mention that ‘gay’, in those days, had a completely different meaning, one now noted by dictionaries as a ‘dated’ usage.

The recent debate over the changes in King’s Square included many rather scornful references to the ‘1970s cobbles’, as if the 1970s were so recent that anything dating from that time had no historical significance. When I look at these ads, the 1970s sure looks like ‘history’ to me.

In 1973 I was a bit too young to be out dancing at the Old World Club, but if you remember it, or any of the other places, please add your comments and memories below.

. . . . . .

Source: Ads from the ‘Eating out in York and District’ guide, published by York & District Hotels and Restaurants Association. Foreword by the Earl of Halifax, dated January 1973. Art Direction and Editorial by Capon Associates, York. Printed by Rusholmes, York.

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  By Lisa @YorkStories 17 January 2014 , To link to this page's proper location please use the > permalink

About Lisa @YorkStories

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  1. Fantastic stuff, thanks for bringing this to light! Despite the name changes these are superb examples of “real history” and of great interest to those who live and work in the city and, dare I say it, every bit as fascinating as our ancient past. I remember seeing dodgy goth bands downstairs at the Old World during the eighties… mainly because I was in one!!

  2. Great stuff. Leak and Thorp was too posh for us, but the Co-Op, before it became Victoria House, was enormous. The cafe was incredible, acres (it seemed) of formica and a cabinet of luminous vanilla slices behind little perspex sliding hatches on the sweets counter. It also had those mesmeric orange juice dispensers that constantly swirl and mix watery Kia-Ora. If there was one shop I could bring back though it would be ‘Precious’ on Petergate, I would simply love to take my kids to that shop, a magical toyshop.

  3. Peter Johnson

    I was a regular at the Old World from around 1973. It was a labyrinth of bars, grills and dance floors. A fabulous place but when I think back it was a health and safety nightmare. The owner was Geoff I think, can’t remember his second name.Whenever I hear certain disco records from that time I always think of the Old World

  4. Still have my old world membership card :) now Kennedy’s , can never suss out where the stairs down to the cellar went tho.. In a total different place now

  5. Further thought to the old world .. I still see one o the doormen wandering around the Clifton area “Judd” I think his name was he used to be a regular in the grey mare, really tall guy … Also in the late 70’s there used to be this crazy woman dancer up in the top dance room .. Used to see her a lot cycling down bootham … Another old world story was one of the doormen did a bus jump up Clifton moor for charity (think that must have been on what is now the gypsy site) also saw one of local legend Gary Barratts band “nerve senta” in the cellar ..

    • went to ashfield secondary modern on taddy road ,1969/1971 gary barrett was in my class i still have the LP of nerve senta..in my cupboard ..i believe one of the other lads in the band was tony jackson …he used to live next door to me in wains rd dringhouses

  6. Way back in the late seventies when I was student we you use to frequent a nightclub in York called the Old World, great club. I eventually got around to begin writing a song about it… work in progress and if you fancy a listen here it is :)

  7. The Old World was owned by Geoff Hull & The 71 Club at the bottom of Micklegate was owned by Neville England, along with Walkers Bar and The Staircase Restaurant all connected by the cellars which stretch for miles under the streets(used to be Walkers wine merchants). I worked there from ’73 for a few years, good times, no bouncers on the door of the 71 Club in the early 70’s, all female door staff. Didn’t need them in those days as people had respect for women & more respect for themselves, there was very little trouble.
    We had a reciprocal arrangent with the door staff at The Old World, we both let each others staff in for nothing. I remember Judd from the Old World, tall guy with long hair.

    • Judd once hung me over the stairs in the old world, his idea of fun.

  8. Gary Harman

    The old world club on Stongate sounds facinating wish it was still there . Kirby Howard listened to your song hope ypu have finished it its a great song :-)

  9. Ernie Brown

    I worked at Old World Club dealing cards in the casino – ah happy days

  10. I used to go to old world 70s and 80s I worked in the white swan hotel late seventies used to do the micklegate run starting at the mount pub on blossom street

  11. i used to work at the royal station hotel late 70`s used to do micklegate run old world .71 club aquarius…used to play darts for nags head in micklegate …loved going in grob n ducket ….those were good days .!!!

  12. Andrew Harben

    Loved the Tavern on the Town

  13. I worked in The Old World, was a chap called Geoff and Lynn Pearson who owned It, I went on to manage the pub they owned on the A64, great times.

  14. Libby corboz

    So glad at last to find this. I used to go every week to this club, when I was a student nurse. It was Fantastic. Had the time of my life there.

  15. I’ve just been searching for that myself as I used to go there in the late 70s. I’d park my Lambretta in the small car park down the little alley, behind the church. The nights I went they played Soul Music.
    I think it was the Aquarius or was that the one in Lady Peckets Yard?

    Used to also go to the Ebor Suite at the side of the Cat’s Whiskers

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