4 Aug 2011

Tales of York Rise

Rose finial
Thistle finial
I've been thinking for some time about putting up a page on the history of York Rise. Not only are the flats in a conservation area but they were very innovative when built in 1938: a lot of thought went into the planning to ensure that the properties were more than just housing: plenty of outside space for gardening, leisure and playspaces for the children despite proximity to Hampstead Heath. Sheds were provided for pram storage as there were no lifts to the top floors. (Very handy now for garden tools!) Every flat had a balcony so the occupant could open the door and enjoy fresh air and each balcony had a window box for flowers or tomatoes. My personal favourite was the wonderful Gilbert Bayes designed ceramic finials, shown here, sitting atop the drying line posts; they were removed 15 years ago for safekeeping but I'm on mission to get them restored, if only in the shape of replicas. (The rose and thistle were the emblems of the London Midland Railway who funded the initial build.)

Families, friends and neighbours were relocated as one from the Somers Town area behind Euston and were bonded by moving to this new life together. Most of the tenants today were either born here or have lived here for many years; elderly tenants have known some of today's mothers since they were babies; this not only adds to the sense of community (people know each other here) but provides a wealth of history if you have the time to chat, which I do. I enjoy knowing that this is such a safe, and largely peaceful, community that people have wanted to grow old here.

So, the history. Well, I've finally been spurred into action by someone who used to live here, in fact was born here, and contacted me through this blog. She left in 1983, I moved here in 2002 but it's astonishing the number of people here that we both know (of). I've been entertained by email with stories from the past and she's been kind enough to provide me with a few photos from her personal archives.

So the history page at the top of this blog is about York Rise beginnings and how that ties in with our veg growing today. I hope that other readers will enjoy it, even if it may be a bit long - and on Friday I'll be back with the veg news!

The Wonderful Wyvern, who used to sit in the centre.


  1. A most enjoyable read! Flighty xx

  2. I've left my comment on the other bit of the blog, love the sculptures, it's amazing how much detail went into every aspect of the building. Elaine

  3. Is this where JK Rowling got some of her inspiration for harry Potter? This looks like the Griffindor symbol to me!

  4. Thank you Flighty, your comment is appreciated; I know such a lot about the history of these flats that it's difficult to be concise in the retelling of it! Very pleased you enjoyed it! Caro xx

  5. Elaine, likewise reply comment left on History page. There was a lot of thought went into these flats as to what would really make a difference - not that I'm biased (ha has) but trust a woman to get it right! Irene Barclay's input made that difference!

  6. Sue, the statue is very like the Griffindor logo - in fact many people think that this is a Griffin! Further confusion is caused by one of the Housing Associations' branches being called Griffin Housing! They're all mythical creatures (which is where JK got her inspiration) but the difference is that Griffins have 4 legs (lion's body, eagle head and wings) whereas Wyverns have hind legs only (dragon like body with wings). All very confusing - but thank you for the opportunity for me to show off my tiny knowledge of mythological creatures!


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