Water Lanes

Water Lane, 1853 by Francis Bedford, York Art Gallery

There were three Water Lanes and they ran from Castlegate, near St Mary’s Church, down to the river. 

The Lanes were similar in appearance to the Shambles with the jettied buildings hanging over the street, but they were much longer and perhaps even more “shambolic”.  The lanes held great appeal for artists, who enjoyed capturing the long, narrow streets and ramshackle buildings.

But the Water Lanes also had the highest rates of poverty and crime in the City.  In a bid to solve this problem, the Corporation of York took the decision in 1852 to clear them altogether, demolishing the buildings and creating a new road across where they ran - Clifford Street.  Municipal buildings were established on the street, including a new Magistrates' Court.


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