12 fascinating old cine films show York in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s

How it used to look: York in the 1970s in a still from one of the old films
17 Jan 2016 @ 7.30 pm
| History

Philip Hutchinson couldn’t live much further away from York. He is from Hampshire and has lived in Guildford in Surrey since 2001.

Yorkophile – Philip Hutchinson
Yorkophile – Philip Hutchinson
Nevertheless he loves to the city. As well as visiting regularly he has sought out old cine film footage of York down the years – many from eBay – and has converted them to a digital format.

Although often grainy, the films offer a fascinating glimpse into our recent past. They feature bygone businesses – who remembers The Nylon Shop at St Sampson’s Square? – traffic on streets where it has been long banned, and the occasional guest star: look out for Henry Cooper in one of them.

Now Philip has shared some of these films with YorkMix – and some of his own memories…

York in the mid-1970s

Philip first came to York in 1993, “on a tour of pantomime – playing at Acomb Working Men’s Club. I remember it well because they looked after us and gave us all selection boxes!”

He used to stay at Romley House in Millfield Road, “but they closed last summer. I felt homeless coming back for my annual trip last December.”

York circa 1990

Although these aren’t Philip’s own films, he did start shooting video footage of the city in the mid-Nineties.

“I actively went seeking places the public didn’t get to see, like inside the locked chamber in the ruins of St Leonard’s and the actual Roman grave on The Mount under a solicitor’s office which was recreated in the Yorkshire Museum,” he said.

“I was also fortunate enough to be taken down into the cellar of the Treasurer’s House years before they granted public access.”

North Yorkshire late 70s

A long holiday video this one, featuring York at the beginning, and scenes from Helmsley, Rievaulx Abbey, Haxby, Whitby and much more.

York, early 1980s

Philip has been so often to York that on his visits now he doesn’t tend to do the touristy things any more.

I photograph the changing city – when you are only in York for a few days a year, but have been doing it for so long, you notice the differences.

Buildings that have been replaced and businesses that have shut down.

York, August 1979

There are some places in the city that Philip, an active poster on the York Past & Present Facebook page, never got to see.

I very much regret I didn’t visit the Friargate Wax Museum, or the nearby Museum of Automata when they were still going.

However, after a pretty bad economic collapse a few years ago the empty units seem to be getting used again.

York, Mystery Plays and Henry Cooper

Quite a mix this film, which dates from the late 1970s. It begins with footage from a steam fair and the Yorkshire Moors, then heads to York.

Here we see various sunny summer scenes, including the wagon Mystery Plays – and bizarrely, an appearance from boxing legend Henry Cooper, who is mobbed by the crowd. It looks like he is promoting that old favourite, Brut aftershave.

York, c1960

This is the grainiest footage of the lot, but still a fascinating glimpse into a bygone York.

Inspired by the ghost walks in York, Philip hosted something similar for Halloween in his home town of Guildford.

“It was so popular I turned it into my own business, which is still running 15 years later,” he said. “I don’t get anything like the numbers you get in York. though…”

Has he seen a ghost?

I have seen a few odd things but am generally very cynical.

I had watched a stationary glass at an empty pub table suddenly whizz of the end of it into the middle of a room, and have also seen, clear as day, a woman at a first floor window at a known haunted ruin in Gloucestershire, though when I got to the other side of the wall there were no floors in the tower.

York and elsewhere, 1962-1966

From an amateur reel come these clips of York, Scarborough, Knaresborough and Whitby. They were filmed in 1962, 1964 and 1966.

A holiday in York, 1970s

A film showcasing the holidays of two old folk in the 1970s begins with a tour of York, before moving on to Canterbury and Nottingham.

York, May 1978

Featuring Goodramgate, St William’s College and Stonegate among others. Looks like a warm, sunny spring.

York in 1973

Features a shot of Wrights of York – was this a butcher’s?

York Railway Museum c1980

Sandwiched between clips of Lincoln and Buxton are shots of the NRM from 30-plus years ago. Unlike most of the films here, this one has sound.

Philip has more video of York that he wants to convert and put on YouTube. He says:

The thing I like about York is that, in all the years I have been visiting, I can count on one hand the amount of times people have been rude to me.

It’s such a friendly and content place.