Plan of York city centre shops, late 20th century … Coney Street, Davygate Centre, etc

Plan showing occupiers of shops, banks etc

Late 20th century plan of York city centre shops, Coney St

Time for a bit of gentle nostalgia …

Going back to those long-ago days of … the late 20th century. And the shops that then made up York’s city centre ‘retail offer’, via this interesting plan I found recently.

The plan records part of the city centre as I knew it, as many of us knew it. Above, Coney Street — generally seen as York’s main shopping street (or it was …) — and the area around it. It has many of the familiar high street shops, some names still part of our city centre, some not. BHS has gone, Woolworths has gone, Boots has since moved into the old Woolworths store. Around those large stores are many smaller retail units, many on the long thin plots stretching back to the river.

In the bottom right, a building that at the time was under alteration, to be Yates. Close by, in one of the small units near the steps up from the narrow lane I’ve written about before is Riverside Records (previously Songs and Stories, and mentioned on that earlier page).

The plan is from a 1996 planning application for the Davygate Centre site, as it was then. Hard to tell if it was put together in 1996 or some time before that. The Davygate Centre is marked in red and thick black outline on this section below.

Plan showing occupiers of commercial premises

Late 20th century plan of York city centre shops, Davygate Arcade

The Davygate Centre is no longer part of York’s shopping scene, but perhaps the image above provokes memories of shopping there, following its covered route from Davygate to New Street, or vice versa.

I think many people have fond memories of it. I don’t remember it too well, but it appears to have had a good selection of shops, including a computer shop, menswear stores Precinct and Traffic, a wool shop, Gillies Fabrics, a model shop, a camping and outdoor store, a hairdresser. It also had a shop called Weigh Out, which sounds like it sold foods loose, perhaps you could take your own container to be refilled? Anyone remember? (An idea that’s becoming more popular again, it seems.)

Also shown on the above plan is Athena, on nearby Feasegate. A place I do remember spending a lot of time in, coveting various posters, back in the 80s.

The plan also shows the area around St Sampson’s Square.

Plan showing occupiers of commercial premises

Late 20th century plan of York city centre shops, St Sampson’s Square and surrounding streets

Brown’s department store is the most obvious retail presence, and it’s still there, though so much around it has changed.

I’ve been trying to write some thoughts and observations on this area for some time, but it all got a bit long-winded, and needs some editing down. Clearly there are concerns over the changes in our town centres. Coney Street is a particularly interesting example of those changes. More on that story later.

For now, I hope this reminder of York’s late 20th century city centre shops is of interest to you, dear reader. (I used to use the phrase ‘dear readers’, but as the gaps between recent writings on here have been quite long recently I think there may only be one reader of it to address, the rest of the readers having drifted away to something more regularly written.)

I’d like to credit the creator of this plan, but there was no indication of who had put it together. It can be found within the planning statement (PDF) for application ref 16/02639/FUL, relating to 11 New Street.

. . . . .

Time for a cuppa, and a look at my half-written things on Coney Street, to see if I can turn them into something succinct and readable. If, dear reader, you’d like to support this resident’s record of York and its changes then virtual coffees are helping to power its pages. Thank you.

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  1. A radically younger me saved up his pennies and bought ‘Super Mario Kart’ from the little computer and video games shop in the bottom right of your map. Even back in that mid 90s period the Davygate Centre felt very 80s and very left behind.

    There did used to be a nice image gallery of the Davygate Centre shops on the Press website but it looks to have disappeared* under a mass of adverts.

    *Sadly a good number of the Press’ older galleries seem to have either disappeared or become non-functional.

    • Hi Chris, thanks for adding your memories of shopping at the Davygate Centre. I think the York Press image gallery you mean is on this link?. It does include quite a few photos of the Davygate Centre, interior and exterior.

      • No, I don’t think so. Perhaps I saw it somewhere else and I’m miss-remembering?

        Thanks anyway!

    • I remember that store! One of the lads that worked there was an acquaintance…Mark I think his name was? It was a great place. There was also a comic store in there for a while. It was definitely on my Saturday shopping rota when I was a teenager.

  2. Chris Harrison

    Hi. I enjoy reading your posts about York, having left in the early 90s I can track changes from my childhood days.
    I recognise all the shops on the Coney Street plan and I think I bought sweets loose in the weighing shop? My brother used to work at the Athena as his Saturday job, and I worked for Woodcocks Bakers (Market Street) but their Clifton branch as my Saturday job.
    We visit once a year now for the pantomime and the centre isn’t what it was, but where is?There’ll always be tourists though!
    Thank you.

  3. This”EXPENSiVE” reader of yours still enjoys your thoughts,in spite of adversity and hard ships of old age,still find your column a joy to read,in spite of your current sparsity.Makes it all the more enjoyable “less equals more” these days

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