Baile Hill to Micklegate Bar
You will notice a reference to George Hudson who was a former Lord Mayor of York and became known as the ‘Railway King’. He established investors to invest in a network of railways around the country, promising great dividends or returns in their investment. Sadly, these returns never came about and George Hudson became disgraced. The statue of George Leeman on Leeman Road was originally to be George Hudson, but after he was disgraced and held to be fraudulent, the head was replaced with George Leeman. So in other words, the statue is a George Leeman head on a George Hudson body!
Micklegate Bar is south facing, making it the royal entrance to the City of York. When a monarch arrived at the gateway, he or she had to ask for the Lord Mayor’s permission to enter. The Mount and Blossom Street leading up to Micklegate Bar overlies a Roman Road hence why they are straight roads. Micklegate (Mickleith) means great street and formed an important route into the city. There are half a dozen monarchs that have passed through this particular gateway.
The restored coats of arms and other adornments certainly look very eye-pleasing. This is ironic, because for some centuries the front of Micklegate Bar looked far more sinister. This was because the heads of traitors and rebels were boiled in a form of tar and hung from Mickelgate Bar. This also included the head of the Duke of York too. This was practiced to provide a warning. However, by 1754 all the heads had been removed from the gateway. During that period, the bar was known as “traitors gate”.
Amusingly, although the barbican was demolished, you can still see the doorways on the wall of the bar where the defenders of the city would come out onto the barbican. Even with the barbican removed, it still remains one of the most impressive of the gateways and provides a huge welcome for those entering York from the south.
Micklegate Bar to Lendal Bridge
You can begin to see the roofs belonging to York Railway Station as well as the avoiding lines on the left heading north. These avoiding lines carry freight trains instead of running them through the station.
You will also see an interval tower and a right-angle in the walls. However, looking down at the walls here reveals archways we mentioned at the outset.
Remember how William Etty campaigned against having archways carved into the medieval walls? Here you will see the arches that once bridged the walls over railway lines beneath that belonged to York’s first railway station. The station was a terminus but as traffic increased it became ever more cramped and difficult to use. Locomotives would have to decouple on entry and run around to the front of the train in order to leave the station. Therefore a new station needed to be built that could cope with the congestion.
The current railway station was built from Scarborough stone and opened in 1877, designed by railway architects Thomas Prosser and William Peachey. At the time it was constructed it was the largest station in the world. What is fascinating in terms of engineering is that the roof, platforms and structures are all built in a curve to marry up with the route of the lines. At the time of construction it was somewhat of a marvel.