York Civic Trust

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York Civic Trust

Current Activities: Civic Trust Plaques


The house built by Joseph Rowntree (Penn House) at the corner of Bootham and St Mary's, was the birthplace of Seebohm Rowntree

Composer George Butterworth's family home was in Driffield Terrace

G T Andrews built and worked from a drawing office at 31 Castlegate

Actor Mark Addy and Lord Mayor Dave Taylor unveil a plaque commemmorating Frankie Howerd's childhood in Hartoft Street

Unveiled on 28 March 2016 by descendents of the Orphanage benefactors and residents. The Orphanage was at 89 The Mount.

Plaque installed on 18 March 2016 to commemorate the benefaction of Colonel Wilkinson

Reyahn King (York Museums Trust) with David Fraser (YCT, right) and Rod Leonard (Yorkshire Philosophical Socety, centre))

Since the Festival of Britain, the York Guides have been celebrating York's buildings

Plaque installed May 2014 to Yves Mahe, a wartime French pilot who helped York
The Emblem of the Civic Trust is used on the plaques placed, ever since the first six in 1951. The Emblem is based on the York Assay Mark of 1423 (under Henry IV).  In 1541 it was described as "the pounce of the Citie called the half leopard head and half flowre de Lyce" (fleur de lys).

Latest Plaques

Recent plaques placed by the Trust include: Dr John Snow, born in North Street, who introduced the mathematical basis for epidemiology - and stopped an outbreak of cholera in London; Quaker missionary, botanist and nurseryman James Backhouse, who with his brother lived at 92 Micklegate; composer and song collector George Butterworth, whose family home was in Driffield Terrace; sculptor George Milburn, whose studio was at Exhibition Square and architect GT Andrews, who among many other work designed York's De Grey Rooms.
On 26 July a plaque was placed on a terraced house in Hartoft Street, where Frankie Howerd's parents lived.  His father was a soldier at Fulford Barracks, who was posted to Woolwich when Frankie was 3.
A plaque to St Stephen's Orphanage has been placed at 89 The Mount.  It commemorates the benefactors who founded the Orphanage and the orphan girls who were brought up there.  The building is now the Hotel du Vin.
 A blue plaque to a famous York geologist was unveiled in the Museum Gardens at St Mary's Lodge - John Phillips, 1800 -1874.  He was active in the mid-1800s and used fossils to prove the correct stratigraphy of geological deposits. He identified and named the major geological eras - Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, and Caenozoic, and demonstrated the mass extinctions between them. Phillips was a prolific academic and popular science author, and was a genuine polymath, being active in many scientific fields.   He was first Keeper of the Yorkshire Museum, which was founded and built by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society.  He was an officer of the  Society for several decades.
This website illustrates many more of the Civic Trust plaques.

In 2015  a plaque was placed on the Library in Library Square, to celebrate the spot as the place where walks began, guided by members of the Association of Voluntary Guides to York.  They began in 1951, the year when the Festival of Britain came to York (and the Mystery Plays were revived, in Museum Gardens alongside).  The walks now begin in Exhibition Square.
A number of plaques recognise the contribution of the Rowntree family, such as the one marking the famous shop at 12, Pavement opened in 1822 by a young Joseph Rowntree (sr.).  All five Rowntree children were born there. Joseph Rowntree, born in 1836, worked at the grocery shop until he left to establish the famous Rowntree confectionery business.  The business was the basis for their prosperity and philanthropy through the Rowntree Foundation, which is sponsoring the plaque.

In 2014 a plaque to Yves Mahé was unveiled at St Martin's, Coney Street, by the French Ambassador to the UK. This page takes you to his speech.  Mahé was a French wartime pilot, a member of 253 Squadron RAF Fighter Command, who in April 1942 took to the air to protect York from a German Luftwaffe bombing raid.  The plaque is near York's historic Guildhall, which was badly damaged by an incendiary bomb.

The last plaque in 2013 marked the 1863 founding of the Yorkshire Gentlemens' Cricket Club. This plaque is on the Betty's Cafe building (formerly Harkers) at the corner of St Helen's Square.

Also in 2013, a replacement plaque was installed besides the statue of Constantine the Great outside the south door of York Minster. The location denotes the fact that Constantine was proclaimed Emperor of Rome by the soldiers stationed in the Roman fortress, beneath the Minster; and that he later went on to establish Christianity as the religion of the Empire.  This plaque is in the setting of the enhanced Deangate.
                                                            
Plaque recognises Civic Trust History

For almost 40 years the name of John Shannon was synonymous with preserving and enhancing the character of York.  John Shannon CBE was one of the founders of York Civic Trust and its Chairman from 1962 to 2001.
In 2012 the Trust placed a plaque on the wall of 18 Blake Street, where used to be the offices of solicitors Munby and Scott.  Working in this central location allowed John Shannon to conduct Trust business alongside his professional activities. 

Plaques: Background

In 1938 the City Council agreed to the idea of placing commemorative plaques on buildings of historic interest. The scheme was dropped during World War II, but the York Civic Trust revived the idea in the late 1940s, offering to help with the design and contributing towards the costs. The result now is a remarkable portfolio of some 70 bronze, wooden and recently aluminium and slate plaques spread throughout the city. 
Subject matters range from the York artist William Etty to a recent one at Barnitts shop on Colliergate, marking the first meeting of the Ancient Society of York Florists in 1768. The one exception to a York location is in the city of Amsterdam, where a York Civic Trust plaque is placed on the English Reformed Church and dedicated to the famous York theologian, Matthew Poole.

Read The Press, York article from 2010 here

Full Plaque list