The Civic Trust’s appeal comes following the collapse of an important piece of local heritage in Holgate on Tuesday 4th April 2023, when the roof of the Canteen Building of the former Carriage Works gave way and crashed through its end gable. 

We want you to tell us about similar local heritage at risk from neglect, vandalism, or destruction. 

Suggestions so far include (hover over images for details) …


These late-Victorian rail tracks on New Walk by the River Ouse once led from a wharf here to the military ordnance depot which stood between what is now Ordnance Lane and Hospital Fields Road. Currently at risk of disappearing once more under river silt and vegetation. 


Environmental issues are taking their toll on several stone monuments in the grounds of St Lawrence’s Church. The ancient Norman tower’s doorway is in a very poor way, and the inscription on the Grade-1 listed pill-box memorial to Oswald Allen, a famous York apothecary is now severely eroded.


Along Poppleton Road, between The Fox pub on Holgate and Howe Hill, there are original street lamps. These are not being cared for. Recent cases of ‘downed’ historic lamps in York – at Minster Gates and Station Rise – show that such lamps are at risk of being toppled by vehicles and replaced with modern ones due to their importance as heritage not being better understood.


Hidden behind Heslington Hall is an 18th century Topiary Garden, including an Orangery. The orangery is Grade II Listed, and caught the eye of Niklaus Pevsner in his guidebook for York and The East Riding. But today it is in a very poor state of neglect.


The former N.E.R. Coal Drops, which were built in 1872-3, have been considerably altered and reduced over time. But they still have visual interest due to their buttressed walls and dramatic changes in level, and tell us about York’s industrial and railway past. They are at imminent risk of being (temporarily?) filled in as part of the York Central redevelopment behind York Railway station.


The Piccadilly area of York’s Central Conservation Area has greatly changed in recent years, and with more demolition and new-build approved. The heritage credentials of this character area are reduced to being The Red Lion pub (Grade II) and the ‘facade’ of the Banana Warehouse, which is to be build around as part of a hotel. Piccadilly is at risk of loosing its conservation area status as a result of these changes.


This is a nationally rare example of a purpose-built “V-C”‘s home as part of a University campus. It informs the early 1960s origin of the University of York and the role the home played as a venue to host events. Like many of the CLASP concrete buildings on the campus, this building’s fate is uncertain and likely to come under increased pressure to be bulldozed as part of a new campus masterplan. It was recently selected as the C20 Society’s ‘Building of the Month


This attractive, post-1845 palisade borders the York-Scarborough Line and are a unique design in York. (They also previously stood on the Bootham Park side. They at risk due to excessive foliage engulfing them, allowing the mortar of the brick piers to collapse towards the pavement.


An appealing 1980s design that has added interest from being built out of reused brick from an old, nineteenth-century tannery of the site. No.11 is one of only three buildings in the village to be mentioned in the revised version of Pevsner’s The Buildings of England, Yorkshire: The North Riding. At imminent risk from demolition and replacement with a 45-bedroom retirement home.


Dating from 1858, these railings complimented the majestic setting of John Carr’s Bootham Hospital. As well as suffering corrosion, all the capping stones at the base of each section have split apart and some sections are at risk of collapse. Also, nearly all the pillars have lost their ball finials. With the withdrawal of the plan for conversion of the former Hospital, the perimeter of the site is at even greater risk.


One of a good few dozen such markers in the city. They provide evidence of York’s historical development and how communities aligned. They are at risk of being lost to the overgrowth or mistaken as rubble and ending up in a skip!


Found in many of the city’s back lanes between terraces, they provide evidence of York’s traditional housing stock and the role back lanes played. Also, a strong design motif! They are at risk of incremental removal or covering over with tarmac, resulting from routine maintenance work.

Why we’re asking

The appeal comes following the collapse of an important piece of local heritage in Holgate, when the roof of the Canteen Building of the former Carriage Works gave way and crashed through its end gable. 

The Canteen Building was built in 1888 and had interesting architectural detailing, including oriel windows at either end. It was the last remaining social building of the Carriage Works complex. There will be lots of people in York who remember using it, but after nearly 150 years this piece of the city’s railway engineering heritage is now gone.

The collapsed Canteen Building, York’s former Carriage Works. IMAGE: York Civic Trust.

By working with members of the public and heritage groups in the city to identify and suggest other York heritage at risk, this can help prevent a similar fate as the Canteen Building. Along the way, it can also raise the profile of some of the city’s forgotten buildings and other structures.  

The Canteen Building wasn’t Listed, but it was on York’s Local Heritage List. In under 20 years, York has lost nearly 1 in 12 of the structures on its Local Heritage List.

What we’re looking for

We’re asking you to think of heritage in broad ways.

  • It can include anything, such as buildings, bridges, historic views, or street furniture…
  • It might be a Listed building standing empty or local non-listed heritage.
  • It can be from any period, including the twentieth century.

Basically, if it looks old, in a bad way, or has stood empty for years, has signs of roof tiles missing and water getting in, or has been vandalised – then we want to hear about it! 

Eerie in its emptiness… Looking up at the skylight in the hall of the former Bootham Park Hospital’s main building in 2013. IMAGE: Bob Adams.

As way of a few examples…

The blue pedestrian cable bridge on Foss Islands Road is also on the Local Heritage List and not nationally Listed. It is currently locked and has stood unused since the demolition of the associated power station and cooling tower in 1977. Today it is rusting with paint peeling away and its future uncertain. 

In contrast in scale and grandeur, the Grade I listed Bootham Park Hospital buildings were to be converted into retirement accommodation until this March, when the developer walked away as the scheme is no longer economically viable. The future of this expansive site is now unknown. Until a new use can be found, such a large complex of buildings is potentially at risk of vandalism or worse.

Bootham Park in happier times… A children’s fete held at Bootham Park on June 22, 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. IMAGE: Explore York Libraries and Archives.

But heritage at risk can also be low key, incidental and right under our noses and yet goes unrecognised. York has some amazing backstreet lanes, complete with silvery-blue hexagonal or square scoria bricks, and of a type that is near unique to the city. In recent years some of these have have been covered over or replaced by tarmac.

What we’re looking to do with the list

The heritage at risk identified by you will assist us in compiling an ‘At Risk’ register for York. Where it is appropriate, it can then inform national heritage bodies with the potential for funding to save York’s vital local heritage. 

York is currently as almost entirely missing on the buildings and heritage at risk lists held by national heritage organisations, such as Historic England, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and The C20 Society. Either York has no heritage at risk, which seems unlikely given the collapse of the Carriage Work’s Canteen Building, or our local heritage at risk is currently not getting due recognition.

Being entirely community-led and coordinated by a local amenity society, this appeal to help make a ‘heritage at risk’ list for the city is thought to be a first in England.  

How to contribute

To be ‘the eyes of the city’ and suggest heritage at risk in York, contact us by email on, on social media, or simply use the Comment function below.

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