• York Rotary

Historic photos of York 100 years ago

Graham reports.....


As we approach the end of the Club’s Centenary Year, Ian Drake’s presentation on April 8th about York 100 years ago, was very appropriate.


Having spent 20 years as Custodian of the Yorkshire Architectural & York Archaeological Society’s (YAYAS) extensive archive of old photographic images, Ian was well qualified to do so.



Ian Drake

Not only had Ian been the custodian of the collections, but he had personally scanned many of the 4000 glass plate images to preserve them in digital form.

Ian’s presentation concentrated on the photographic archive of Thomas Hanstock, a commercial photographer, who captured images of life in York in the early days of the last century, many of which were used for postcards – the ‘in-method’ of communication at the time.


His presentation included not just images of York itself, but images of important events and celebrations, of royal proclamations, military parades, visits by royalty and many fascinating civic and street scenes.


One interesting shot was of the Grand Yorkshire Gala in 1909, at which a tethered helium balloon allowed paying customers to see York from above, but it broke free and

Thomas Hanstock 1871-1942 self-portait photo


took ten astonished passengers on a frightening ride before coming down at Elvington – one of the passengers was David Rayner’s grandfather !

Minster's "Great Peter" Bell cast in 1927


Leak & Thorpe's store on fire 1933

Ian concluded with four shots of York taken from the top of the old gasometer close to Foss Bank, which between them provide a wonderfully detailed 360 degree panoramic view over the City. Taken in wartime for fire wardens to identify the locations of fires from incendiary raids - one could only sympathise with the warden sitting on top of a gasometer, with enemy aircraft in the vicinity.


Thomas Hanstock was also one of the founders of York County Hospital Radio, having set to and built the equipment himself - a man of many talents.



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