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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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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.