Many of our makers specialise in traditional and heritage crafts, as such we were interested in the origins of our new home and if we could find any links to our current work.
As with any research project once you start the rabbit hole widens, and it becomes a far bigger process than originally planned.
We decided to widen the search, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, into a broader picture of the street. York has many of it’s records online on the Find My past and Ancestry website, so we were able to pull basic findings together. The trade directories from 1792 are also online, as are many incredibly detailed D Phil articles from the university of York. This meant we were able to pull a great deal of information together. However it was never intended that we go as in depth as a PHD study would entail
We did decide however it would be a good exercise to map the street, so we could build a picture of these craftsmen, how they sold and the growths of the businesses. This has also fed into the dialogue around the changing face of the High Street. We also decided to concentrate on the pre 20thc street, due to our interest in the craftsmen, rather than shops as such. Much has been written about Coney Street as a shopping street which we didn’t want to duplicate. As we started with the numbered trade directories we also decided to just concentrate on ‘modern’ coney street, rather than the earlier street which included Old Coney Street, now Lendal, and the continuation which became Spurriergate, named for the many spur making businesses trading there
At the end of February 2020 one of our members had an immersive week in the city, going through the deed and rent accounts in York Explore. Including handling a set of deeds from 1567, although no clue as to which building they were for. **
We also met with York Civic Trust, Merchant Taylors, The Mansion House, York Georgian Society, York Bid and the Merchant Adventurers to discuss the project and taking it further.
Sadly the Covid pandemic brought the rest of our research to a halt. Visits to view essential documents such as the National Trust records based at Northallerton, and the 1791 water rates records in the Borthwick Institute, which would have answered a number of questions haven’t been possible. We also had to call a halt to our classes. As such the information here is incomplete, but we plan to add to it as we can.
We had also hoped to do a physical exhibition at the end of this, however this is impossible for the time being. We decided then to add it all online, including all the ‘jigsaw puzzle pieces’ we are still combing through, so there is a an archive pulling together lots of random information that is online. Due to the pandemic we’ve also been unable to gain permissions to use licensed images
We also welcome information from members of the community who may be able to add to this. We’d like to extend thanks to our fab volunteers who have done sterling work pulling all the info together
** We have found information on William Gilmyn mentioned in the deed records in this article he did own a house on Coney Street, as well as Stonegate, we just need to work out which one