Plaque on the side of 31 Castlegate, YO1 9RN

George Townsend Andrews was born in Exeter in 1804 although his roots lay in Jamaica where his mother’s family employed slaves on their sugar plantation until she moved to London for the birth of her son. The family returned to Jamaica leaving George in England to be educated but, in 1831, they travelled back to London when his father, John Daniel, started a new career as a merchant in the City.

York branch office

John Daniel and his forebears were adept at pulling the strings of patronage, a crucial skill for architects inherited by his son. George had become a pupil of Peter Frederick Robinson, a fashionable architect living in London and, in 1825, Robinson won a competition for the design for the expansion of York County Gaol at York Castle, displaying a blend of sensitivity to the existing buildings, practical planning and some flamboyant castellated features. To supervise this project, he established George as his partner in a branch of the practice based in York. However, other than the work at the Castle and on restoring the medieval city walls, the known output of Robinson & Andrews’ York office during their decade of partnership appears to be from George alone. In the early 1830s he was designing a head office for the York City & County Bank and almost simultaneously with Hudson’s York Union Bank. When his father died in 1836, George was left a sufficient inheritance to provide him with a degree of independence. Needing a site office at York Castle, George built one on the prison property just outside its walls, 32 Castlegate, which remained his office and that of his successors.

The Railway King

The key person in the life of George Andrews was George Hudson, the first “Railway King”, (1800-71), for whom he remodelled a house at 44 Monkgate. Andrews became involved in the promotion of the York & North Midland Railway (YNM) as a member of the provisional committee with Hudson as Chairman when this was established in 1835. He designed all the buildings erected by that company from 1839 to 1849 including the arches by which the railway penetrated the city walls for the station. In 1846/7 when Hudson secured a third term as Lord Mayor, Andrews was his Sheriff. He designed the first York station erected jointly by YNM and GNE (Great North of England Railway) and, as a consequence, designed all the GNE stations, warehouses and depots between York and Northallerton. He also designed all the buildings for the Newcastle and Darlington Junction Railway and for YNB (York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway). His output also included numerous churches, private houses and other buildings such as the De Grey Rooms in York and the old buildings of the present York St John University, then a Diocesan College.

In 1848, Hudson and Andrews fell out. Hudson began to cut capital spending, asking Andrews to reduce his fees and receiving a dusty answer. Hudson’s downfall brought an immediate end to Andrew’s regular supply of railway work. His personal finances were badly affected by the loss of railway work but he had plenty of other work. However, he speculated on the share market to try to recoup losses, the outcome being the assignment of his assets to creditors in 1852 including the auction of his extensive art collection with many works by William Etty. He kept going for another three years but died in 1855.

A comprehensive list of George Townsend Andrews’ work appears in Bill Fawcett’s book cited below.

GT Andrews’ buildings in York

(In partnership with P.E. Robinson until July 1837)

 County Prison extension at York Castle, supervision for P.E. Robinson, 1826-36

32 Castlegate, Andrews’s office, 1826-30

44 Monkgate, remodelling of George Hudson’s home, 1827

Restoration of Bootham Bar, supervision for P.E. Robinson, 1834

St. Catherine’s Hospital, Holgate Road, 1834-5

1 St Leonard’s Place, York Subscription Library, 1834-5

2-4 and 8 St Leonard’s Place and Blanshard’s House, 1834-5

Alterations to Assize Courts at York Castle, 1835

National School for Boys, Queen Street, 1835

York City & County Bank, Parliament Street, 1835-6

Castle Mills Bridge widening, 1836

York station, 1839-40

St Mary Bishophill Senior, enlargement of gallery, 1841

De Grey Rooms, 1841-2

York Merchandise Station, 1841-2

York & North Midland railway workshops and Holgate Villa, 1842-3

122 The Mount, 1842-5

Bar Convent: dormitory, 1844; alterations to chapel and new school rooms, 1846-7; gardener’s house, 1846; enlargement of 19 and 21 Blossom Street, 1846-7

Lendal Tower restoration, 1845

Yorkshire Insurance Co Fire Station, St Andrewgate, 1845

North Lodge, 1845

Toft Green Chambers, 1845

York Diocesan Training School (York St. John University), 1845-6, chapel, 1850-1

Monk Bar repair and adaptation, 1846

York station, enlargement and second arch through city wall, 1846

37 Monkgate, enlargement, 1846

Yorkshire Insurance Company head office, St Helen’s Square, 1846-7

York Yeoman School 1846-7

St Olave, internal reordering, 1849

90 The Mount, 1851

Housing in Tanners Moat, 1851-5

York station hotel, 1852-3

1-3 The Crescent, Blossom Street, 1853-4

Calvert Villa, The Mount, 1853-4

Winn’s George Hotel, Tanner Row, 1854-5

Priory Street and Dewsbury Terrace, 1854-6

Melbourne Terrace, 1855



Bill Fawcett, George Townsend Andrews of York ‘The Railway Architect’, (York, 2011, published by Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society and North Eastern Railway Association)

© Pat Hill