I often walk through Miller’s Yard, Gillygate, taking a short cut from that street into Bootham Row car park and then to Sainsbury’s on Bootham. I rarely go the other way, and when I do I’m usually in a hurry. Wandering through there recently, when I wasn’t in such a hurry, I stopped to read the posters in a window and then noticed Tom Mason’s bench.
And then remembered sitting here with my sister, decades back, sitting at tables outside — wooden benches like the type in pub beer gardens, as in the Exhibition pub, just across the yard — having lunch, and drinking tea. And sparrows, I remember sparrows on the ground around the tables, looking for crumbs. Funny the details you remember.
Further thought reminded me that this would have been when Gillygate Wholefood Bakery occupied this corner of Miller’s Yard, and that it would have been the late 1980s into the mid 1990s. (I know that the Gillygate Wholefood Bakery was here until the mid 1990s because it used to sell Subtext magazine in 1995-6.)
When did it close? I can’t remember. But when I went back to take the photos for this page I discovered that the year of its opening is there, carved in stone. I don’t recall noticing this before either. Proudly proclaiming the establishment of this Workers’ Co-operative, in 1982.
Nicely carved lettering. I wonder who did it. Once you start looking properly there are so many questions.
I took one photo of Miller’s Yard one bright morning in 2004 when on my first ‘York Walks’ for this website:
But since then I’ve been dashing through it with no thoughts surfacing.
Until the plaque on the bench made me stop awhile, pause, pay attention.
Somewhere in my vast piles of York-related papers and cuttings I’ve got an old article about the Gillygate Wholefood Bakery, dating from the late 1980s, I must try to find it.
Meanwhile, do other readers remember it? I’m also wondering if someone can clarify whether the wholefood bakery and cafe occupied two of these units together, here in the corner? I remember it that way, but may be wrong. So many years ago …
I Googled for more information, but didn’t find much. This Workers’ Co-operative may have a stone in place in Miller’s Yard but doesn’t seem to have much of a record here in the online world, so please add a comment if you have further information, thoughts, or memories.
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