The King’s Square repaving has hit the national press. The Mail reported yesterday: ‘Ancient cobbled path leading to York’s Shambles ripped up and replaced with £500,000 of modern paving after being deemed unsuitable for disabled people’.
I’m annoyed by the angle taken by the national press so I thought I’d add a few points, from someone who has been following this with interest for months … please add a comment if you have further information …
— my understanding is that the square is being repaved for ‘aesthetic’ reasons, not because of issues with disabled access
— this isn’t about the Shambles, though many people commenting online seem to have interpreted it that way. It’s about King’s Square, and King’s Court, nearby. Just as important as the Shambles, but not the Shambles
— the paving can’t really be described as ‘ancient’. In this location, winding round King’s Square, it’s apparently from the previous restoration in the 70s. So if it’s ancient, so am I, so less of the ancient please. It’s certainly part of the ‘historic fabric’, and in many people’s opinion (including mine), should be kept
— it seems likely the paving in question was relaid here after being taken up from some other local street – so it’s probably 19th century like similar examples – I hope an expert in such matters can clarify
— it’s very handsome, and functional, and fits with the ‘York aesthetic’ as it matches other nearby lanes, like the Shambles, and others, as covered on a recent page
This photo from the City of York Council archives, taken in the late 19th century, shows similar cart tracks and setts. It shows clearly that at that time they stopped at the end of Newgate. The Shambles is off to the right, King’s Square, still with its church, is ahead.
All done for ‘the disabled’ — really?
The Mail went for this angle and other papers have/will too.
I’ve read a lot of info about this proposed revamp and my understanding is that it wasn’t for ‘the disabled’. It was about impressing visitors. The ‘disabled access’ appears to be some kind of weird spin put on things.
It’s churned up some nasty prejudice and ignorance in the comments in response, as singling out a group always does. Suddenly the ‘aesthetic’ improvements are the fault of these ‘disabled people’. So let’s blame them then, or health and safety gone mad, or political correctness, or all the other things the story in the Mail churned up.
This group ‘the disabled’: who are they exactly? It’s all of us, we’re all ‘disabled’ by something, I’ve lived long enough to know that. And if we’re not obviously physically disabled now we will end up disabled in some way if we live long enough. Less of the ‘us and them’ would be helpful.
Do they mean the paving is difficult for people with particular mobility or sight difficulties? I never saw massive complaint from these perspectives in the responses to the consultation on the changes.
Not just about paving
Yes, the work in King’s Square is a waste of money, in many people’s opinion. And it is removing something which has character and interest.
King’s Square is full of other things of significance apart from the paving. Personally I’d really like some more detail on other aspects of the work, such as whether the people who paid for plaques on benches have had a proper say on the imminent removal of those benches, and whether anyone also cares about the imminent removal of a healthy tree.
If you have any facts or information to add, please add a comment below.
For previous pages on the paving in particular, see here, and this more recent page including other examples of cart tracks and setts.
View from above
And here’s how it looks today. The paving in the central area has been lifted in recent weeks:
— Gwen Swinburn (@GSwinburn) September 21, 2013
(Thanks to Gwen Swinburn)
Elsewhere on the web
Information on the changes to King’s Square, from City of York Council. Includes image of proposed redesign, as approved by the Cabinet in April, which is now in progress. The work has uncovered the remains of the church.
More on recent archaeological happenings in King’s Square from yorkmix.com
Save York’s ancient history – Facebook group