Rougier Street and All Saints Lane

September 2011

Rougier Street, seen through a bus shelter

After admiring positive and inspiring changes to buildings on Wellington Row and Tanners Moat, I’ve continued my wanders. Around the corner we enter the gloomy canyon known as Rougier Street.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

But please don’t leave yet – we end up in a charming old alleyway.

I was rather struck by the image of this office building through the glass roof of the bus shelter … but otherwise it’s a bit grim down here. The light is all swallowed up on this street.

There are many reasons York is special and provokes the emotions it does, but one of them is that most of it feels like it’s on a human scale. In the medieval/historic centre the only building that makes you feel really overshadowed by its massive bulk is the Minster, and you don’t mind being towered over by that, as it’s all pale and beautiful and intricate.

Here on Rougier Street you’re overshadowed by gloom and concrete. And possibly brick – I don’t know, I always rush down it as quickly as possible to escape its hideous soulless gloom.

But at its bottom end, where it meets George Hudson Street, there’s hope of salvation.

There’s Club Salvation, painted black, and in case that doesn’t save you, Bar Salvation.

They’re both ugly too, sadly.

Club Salvation
Bar Salvation

Bar Salvation used to be the Grob and Ducat (aka The Grobs), and I remember watching Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ on its then new and exciting video jukebox, and Madonna cavorting around in a gondola doing ‘Like a Virgin’, on the same. Perhaps other things were on it – I guess so – though it was the mid-80s and we had lower expectations then, so perhaps it was just Brucie and Madonna on endless repeat.

The other notable aspect of this depressing street is that it is full of buses. Elsewhere on this site, in one of its less-visited corners, I can offer you a historical view (1980s) of the wall of the Grobs, with 80s graffiti, and many more photos of buses in Rougier Street.

Back in the present, on the 21st century evening I visited, the club and bar were closed, so I didn’t find out if they really did offer salvation.

Nipping down the side of ‘Bar Salvation’ and taking a quick right turn down a narrow opening between buildings takes you to All Saints Church. And to one of my favourite corners, a narrow lane leading to it. Churches have been, of course, more traditionally associated with salvation. When I came out for a walk I wasn’t looking for salvation, I was just looking for some photos, but having experienced the peculiarly depressing effect of all that gloom and black paint on Rougier Street, I could almost have converted from my agnosticism, had the church been open.

All Saints Lane, and Boxing Club building
All Saints Lane, looking towards North Street

This alleyway is alongside All Saints, a church with a spire that glows in midsummer evening sunlight like it’s pointing the way to heaven. But for now I’m checking on the alleyway down here, and whether anything has been done yet with this rather charming building, once a boxing club. All alleyways should look like this one does. There’s a fabulous specimen of a yellow corydalis – one of York’s most successful weeds – growing out of its old brickwork. On the other side is the church, and just along from it, proper historic medieval buildings, now rather stranded, with the medieval neighbours long gone, and instead another huge out-of-scale thing plonked on the riverside across the road (was the Viking Hotel, now has some other name, still charmless).

Still, down this alleyway it’s proper York. A mix of deeply historic and significant buildings, listed and admired, and a place made of brick, with bits of utilitarian pipe sticking out of one end at a jaunty angle.

Though nothing’s changed much down this alleyway, there have been changes nearby in Tanners Moat and Wellington Row.

10 comments

  1. Jill Clark(Dobson)

    I believe my paternal Grandmother lived in Rougier Street sometime around the beginning of the last century.Her name was Beatrice Russell(sp?)I would love to hear from anyone who knew of her.

    • I have not heard of this lady but my great great grandfather once owned a lot of property in york. Rougier street is named after my family. He was named Joseph Rougier, they apparently made hair combs and ornaments for hair. I have never been to york but am visiting with my daughter in April. We hope to visit york museum where I understand there is a room dedicated to the Rougier family.
      Lisa Rougier Ward.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Apologies if you know this already. I have an article published by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in 1964 (pp 25-56), entitled ‘Hornpot Lane and the Horners of York.’ The author was Leslie Peter Wenham. Your ancestors are prominent and there’s also a personal account written by John W Rougier (b1888), in which he gives details of his personal life and his work in the industry: there’s also a photograph of a painting by J W Rougier (painted in 1961) which shows an impression of the Hornpressers’ workshop, in Rougier Street from 1900 a1920.

    If you don’t already have this article and would like a copy, it’s available from the British Library. I believe that their reference number is BLL01014422226. If you have no luck there, feel free to contact me here and I’ll photocopy/scan it and send it on to you.

    I also have a vague recollection of a monument to the Rougiers in York Cemetery, Fulford Road, York which would be well worth a visit when you head up to York. It may be a false memory on my part, so you’d be better off contacting them directly to confirm this. In the meantime I’ll do a bit of digging to see if I can track down where I think I got that impression from.

    • Hi Mike , thankyou so much for your mail. I have not really got a lot of info on the family so I am most grateful to you.I would also be very pleased if you could email the article you have. Unfortunately I can only spend a weekend in york when I come so just hoping I can fit everything in. Once again thankyou.
      lisa Rougier Ward.

  3. Hi again Lisa,

    Done a bit of digging and can’t find the reference to a monument at York Cemetery. However, I’ve done a quick check on their burial index and there are 19 Rougiers buried there.

    http://yorkcemetery.org.uk/genealogy/Gen/fsrrrr.htm

    Regards
    Mike

  4. Good to see this interesting historical info, thanks Mike for finding it. I’m not sure if Lisa W will have seen it so I’ve just emailed her to alert her to it. Thanks Mike
    Lisa (@YorkStories)

  5. No problem, it’s a pleasure to be able to pass the info on. I’ll have the article scanned at work next week. In the meantime perhaps you could drop me your email address: mine’s m.kettlewell@btopenworld.com.

  6. Sorry, thanks to website Lisa for acting as the go between too!

  7. I have only just noticed this thread I believe Lisa Ward shares same ancestors my Great Grandfather was George Rougier left family at York to be a Stockbroker London.I have researched a bit would like to contact Lisa if poss.

  8. Hi Wendy, If you’d like to contact me on m.kettlewell@btopenworld.com I may be able to put you in touch with another Rougier descendant who I’m in contact with. Mike

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