Riverside stories – York

Stories about the rivers in York. How have the rivers shaped York’s identity and how has York shaped the rivers? Here are a collection of stories and accounts of how the rivers used to be…

York Minster on the River Foss, engraved by T. Lupton published 1824 Thomas Girtin 1775-1802 Purchased 1987 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T04869

A Local Lament – York Floods, by Sydney Martin

My great Aunt, and long term resident of York, recently dug out an old newspaper clipping she had found of a poem that was published in the local paper in 1982. The ‘lament’ is written in East Yorkshire dialect and seems like it could be written today, still referring to the same problems – Clifton Ings and the pubs in town frequently being flooded at several points in the year. I particularly like the end where York is described as being famous for being gracious and stately to some (‘gracious and Statla ti som’), referring to its grand built heritage before going on to say the city might soon become famous for its being wet and flooded instead!

The River Foss – Its History and Natural History, Fife and Walls

This notable book published by York’s Sessions Book Trust, written by Michael Fife and Peter Walls, details the significance of the Foss in shaping York’s history as well as providing a careful account of the more-than-human inhabitants of the Foss over the past century. The book also includes a fold out map (photo below), intricately designed by hand with illustrations and points of interests (aka pubs) along the way! The book acts as a seminal text for the foundation of today’s River Foss Society, whose members pointed this book out. The River Foss Society carry out a range of activities from campaigning to carrying out litter-picks all generally aiming for a better appreciation and celebration of the Ouse’s main tributary, the River Foss, and its importance to the character and identity of the city of York.

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