‘A high explosive bomb hit the school wall’
There are many familiar street names on the lists of air raid damage and casualties from the ‘Baedeker’ raid of 1942. One street name probably not so familiar is Pickering Terrace.
I could find no trace of it when I first searched many years ago. Seemed odd that a whole street had disappeared.
It is shown on the pre-war maps. Pickering Terrace was just off Newborough Street. It’s now just a strange little stump of a street, apparently leading to a back entrance to Shipton Street school. The fish and chip shop on Newborough St marks its corner.
There were eight houses here, presumably similar to the ones on Newborough Street, four on each side. They were built in the late 19th century, when the football ground behind the ones on the left was a cricket ground. No trace left now of any of them. The school yard seems to have taken in the ground they once occupied, which was just beyond the wall shown on this photo.
The school is closed and awaiting redevelopment. Its yard is overgrown and deserted. Where the buddleia now grows, bombs fell in April 1942.
One of the casualties of that raid died at number 6 Pickering Terrace. Katharine Cooper, aged 47.
A contribution to the BBC archives includes an account of the bombing of Pickering Terrace. Gerald Wilkins lived on Newborough Street:
“My eldest brother and his wife lived just up the road in a small cul-de-sac of 6 or 8 houses bordering onto a school wall. My brother was also working nights at "Crooks Optical" factory. His wife, who was pregnant, was on her own. My mother and I went to our front door looking for her. There were many houses on fire also incendiary bombs burning in the street. Soldiers, from nearby Lumley Barracks, were trying to fight the fires. They began shouting, "Get inside" as a figure ran down the street. It was my sister-in-law running towards us. She was safe and sound. She was doubly lucky, as a high explosive bomb hit the school wall demolishing all their houses, as well as German planes which were machine gunning the street. My father and brother were told that our street had been burnt to the ground. Luckily this was not true, but my father did say that he had seen locomotive engines piled on top of one another at least three or four deep, and wondered at the force required to do this.”
© Gerald Wilkins, WW2 People’s War. Gerald’s full account of the raid
WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/.
Pickering Terrace is shown on the 1937 map at www.old-maps.co.uk (new window). To locate, put the coordinates 460002 and 453002 in the Coords boxes on the home page, select 1937 map from the list in the box on the right when the modern map appears in the central box. The street is shown close to the north-east corner of the football ground.
See also: site shown in Google map aerial view
A film clip of York City FC in training, dating from 1938, shows terraced houses in the background, which must be Pickering Terrace. About 22 seconds in. View on British Pathé.com.