Kirkgate: Victorian Street

The street in the 1940s

1870AD - 1899AD

Whilst not in its original location almost everything in Kirkgate, from the cobbles to the shop-fronts, is genuinely Victorian. 

It is the oldest recreated street in any museum in Britain.  It was the iconic display in the Castle Museum when it opened in 1938; the idea was ground-breaking and has since been copied by dozens of museums across the globe, though never with quite the same level of authenticity.

The street was the idea of the founder of the museum, Dr John Kirk, a North Yorkshire doctor who wanted to create a museum of a way of life which was quickly disappearing.  While on his rounds he rescued objects and later advertised for antiquities and collected bygones.  He also saved original historic shop fronts and interiors from all over the country and painstakingly reconstructed them in the museum to make the street.

Kirkgate is set in the late Victorian period, between 1870 and 1899.  The cobbled street is lined on both sides with a variety of shops of the period – from a chemist shop with its patent medicines, to the pawnbrokers with its pledges.  There is also a small courtyard which serves the poorer people of the town, with a second hand clothes shop, a lodging house and a down market grocers.

From its opening in 1938 the Museum, and the Victorian Street in particular, have proved incredibly popular.


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